You can help
What: Yolo Hospice patient care volunteer training
When: 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, July 12-13 and 19-20
Info: Anne-Marie Flynn, Yolo Hospice volunteer service manager, [email protected], 530-601-5754
Sign up: Visit the volunteer page at www.yolohospice.org
The DavisWiki lists approximately 126 volunteer opportunities in and around Davis. With so many choices, why do people choose to volunteer with Yolo Hospice?
There are many reasons: Patient care volunteers work directly with patients and their loved ones. The care that volunteers provide is essential and immediately meaningful to Yolo Hospice patients and their loved ones. It is the reason that hospice volunteers are drawn to the opportunity. They make a difference with every encounter.
Katherine Moon is a recent addition to the Yolo Hospice volunteer team. She is applying to medical school, after working as a graphic designer. She wishes to do more with her creative abilities and believes pursuing a medical degree would allow her to use her skills in a manner more meaningful to her.
“People don’t deal with death until it knocks on their door,” Moon said. “It can be a shock facing your own or a loved one’s mortality. I like the Tibetan philosophy, that life is one small part of your continued existence.”
Moon has been exploring Tibetan philosophy and Zen perspectives. She wants to approach medicine creatively. Her grandmother’s experience with hospice led her to believe that caring for the whole person at the end of life may be the most beneficial to the individual.
“If I am going to become a good doctor, I need to understand people, every type of person out there,” Moon said. “Regardless of how they’ve lived, they all experience the dying process. In my future role as a doctor, I want to help people have ‘peace.’ To help people with end-of-life process in a creative way is something I want to do, not just right now, but for the rest of my life.”
Marion Franck has been a Yolo Hospice patient care volunteer for eight years, but hospice was in the back of her mind for much longer.
“I’d heard many stories of people in hospitals who wanted to go home, but couldn’t,” Franck said. “I was probably thinking way too early about my own death, but I read about hospice, and respected it as an alternative to death in the hospital.”
“At first, my imagination made hospice volunteering scarier than it ever turned out to be. In my medical ignorance, I worried I’d have to care for the patients physically. I’ve never done anything more physical than give a hugs or kisses.”
Franck has been assigned to patients fairly constantly since then. Her assignments have included a remarkable number of people who have lived on hospice for five to eight months, which is unusual. Too many people use hospice when they have only days remaining.
“What I did anticipate was that I’d get to know the patient, the family and the friends,” Franck said. “I’ve had real relationships, something important is going on and everyone cares.”
Patrick Hunt was a communications professor teaching interpersonal communications.
“I had a couple of colleagues who volunteered with hospice,” he said. “They were very positive about the experience. Then my father became seriously ill and moved into a hospice facility in Denver. It was a wonderfully supportive experience, especially for my mom, who was elderly at that point.”
Hunt has been volunteering at Yolo Hospice for approximately 10 years.
“The patients I’ve seen have tended to be male,” he said. “Typical of male communication, conversations are often less than direct and center on the mundane such as the ball score, traffic or the weather.”
Hunt follows hospice groundbreaker Elizabeth Kubler Ross’ recommendation, “let the patient set the agenda.”
He does not continue to volunteer for the meaningful conversation or the depth of the exchanges. He continues to volunteer because “people are sometimes lonely, especially those in facilities, sharing time with folks, trying to get people to laugh is meaningful. To me, if I break the monotony of their waiting I’ve made a profound contribution.”
All hospice patient care volunteers attend an intensive training and are taught what to expect. The training provides them the tools to be confident in their volunteer role as part of the hospice team and the resources available to them as volunteers.
The next hospice volunteer training is in Davis at Yolo Hospice on Fridays and Saturdays, July 12-13 and 19-20 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day. To learn more, please contact Anne-Marie Flynn, Yolo Hospice volunteer service manager, at [email protected] or 530-601-5754. To sign up for the training, go to Yolo Hospice’s volunteer page at www.yolohospice.org.
— Mary Odbert is Yolo Hospice’s public relations representative. This column is published monthly.