Coastal Hospice

Volunteers

Coastal Hospice at the Lake: A Volunteer’s Perspective

It was not long after Coastal Hospice at the Lake began operating on the second floor of Deer’s Head Hospital that Jane Whitmore took advantage of the tour offered to the public. Jane, who had prior  experience volunteering with a hospice in New Jersey, was drawn to hospice work because of her desire  to help families when their loved ones were approaching the end of life.

Jane started volunteering at Coastal Hospice by helping with mailings in the main office. After she took the tour of the Lake, she realized there was more she could do and found that volunteering at the inpatient facility offered scheduling flexibility.

In the 12 years she has been volunteering at the Lake, there have been a number of changes. Every week is different, and Jane said she has learned something new about the volunteer role from the people she has encountered and through communication, in general. Although there may be days when the  circumstances are sad, she always leaves the Lake with a sense of warmth and a feeling of connection.

While there is likely to be more intimacy and a greater attachment to patients and their families in the home setting, at the Lake the volunteer routine is likely to be different with each visit. In addition to flexibility, there are encounters with a variety of people and different tasks from which to choose. Volunteers act as the eyes and ears for busy nurses and CNAs and can get assistance if patients are uncomfortable.

It is easy to volunteer at Coastal Hospice at the Lake. Jane suggests asking the staff which patients need you to sit at bedside, then introduce yourself to the patient and just be there. Family members are often glad to see someone sitting with their loved one when they cannot. Also, with experience, you will know what needs to be done and will do it without waiting to be asked. If you want to volunteer at the Lake, be sure to wear comfortable, closed-toe shoes because there is a lot of walking, and get a tour of the entire  facility, including the cafeteria and where to get ice. Lockers are  provided for personal possessions, but we’ve found it is better to  leave them in the car.

There are a variety of tasks for volunteers at the Lake, depending on your interests, including: ~ Patient and family companionship and socialization ~ Sitting with patients, even if quietly ~ Taking a patient by wheelchair for a change of scenery ~ Filling patient water pitchers with water and ice ~ Checking supplies in the family and kitchen area ~ Restocking supplies ~ Checking dates on food in the refrigerator ~ Giving tours to new families and visitors ~ Stocking linens ~ Distributing pre-packaged foods upon request ~ Asking an aide to call the kitchen for snacks ~ Assisting in meal distribution ~ Getting ice from the basement ~ Helping CNAs with patients

The most important aspect of volunteering at the Lake is the focus on patients and families. If you are interested in volunteering there, please contact Volunteer Services at  410-543-2590 or  volservices@coastalhospice.org so we can get you started.