What Does a Hospice Volunteer Do?

Nick Mann
Nick Mann
Hospice volunteers care for people in their final days.
Hospice volunteers care for people in their final days.

Working as a hospice volunteer is ideal for a person with a compassionate nature and a desire to help those with a terminal illness. Essentially, these individuals provide patients and families with care and support throughout a patient's final days. Since there is no monetary compensation for this job, a person must be willing to take on this responsibility for free. Some common job duties of a hospice volunteer include monitoring patient status, providing patients with companionship, doing various chores, providing family members with patient updates and offering bereavement support to families.

A hospice volunteer usually exudes compassion and provides companionship.
A hospice volunteer usually exudes compassion and provides companionship.

Monitoring a patient's status is a job duty that a hospice volunteer will perform on a daily basis. To minimize suffering, a hospice volunteer must be able to communicate with other staff members if a patient experiences complications. To be effective at this, it's helpful for an individual to build a rapport with each patient he interacts with and understand the exact nature of each patient's condition. While a hospice volunteer isn't usually trained in the medical field, he can still relay information to staff members who are.

Hospice volunteers may help out with chores, such as laundry.
Hospice volunteers may help out with chores, such as laundry.

Another large part of this position involves providing patients with companionship. Since a patient's experience at a medical facility can be difficult and often lonely at times, a hospice volunteer can provide a great deal of support. This aspect of the job simply involves talking with a patient and offering emotional support. Consequently, it helps for an individual to be sympathetic and possess excellent communication skills.

A hospice volunteer may offer bereavement support to family members.
A hospice volunteer may offer bereavement support to family members.

Doing various chores for patients is also the responsibility of a hospice volunteer. The exact duties will often vary, but might involve things like running errands, washing clothes, getting food or cleaning a patient's room. Being effective at these tasks usually requires a person who is adaptable and able to meet the specific needs of each patient.

Hospice facilities can provide palliative care for patients who are in the beginning stages of a terminal illness.
Hospice facilities can provide palliative care for patients who are in the beginning stages of a terminal illness.

Another role of a hospice volunteer is to provide family members with patient updates. Since the family can't always be there, it's often up to a volunteer to contact family members when necessary. For example, if a patient suddenly experiences a medical complication, the volunteer would need to call a family member to explain the situation.

Additionally, this position sometimes calls for a hospice volunteer to offer bereavement support to families. While a family usually expects the death of a loved one, the grief stemming from the loss is still difficult. Consequently, a volunteer should be very sympathetic and able to provide consolation upon the death of a patient.

Discussion Comments

pollick

I remember the days of the Candy Stripers, young girls who wore distinctive uniforms and did a lot of the jobs mentioned in the article. I think some of them did it for the experience, since they were planning on becoming nurses one day. I don't know if any hospital still has that kind of program in place. I know they'll sometimes reach out to a local nursing school and invite the students to shadow the professionals for a day.

Buster29

It surprised me to learn how many people are volunteers at our local hospital. The first person I see when I come in the door is a volunteer who greets people and gives directions. The person who wheels me into the examining room is a volunteer. If the phone rings in the waiting room, it's usually a volunteer who answers it. I haven't seen too many volunteers in the actual rooms, but I've been told a volunteer goes around with a cart filled with snacks and magazines and other treats for the patients.

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    • Hospice volunteers care for people in their final days.
      By: Fotoluminate LLC
      Hospice volunteers care for people in their final days.
    • A hospice volunteer usually exudes compassion and provides companionship.
      By: Ocskay Bence
      A hospice volunteer usually exudes compassion and provides companionship.
    • Hospice volunteers may help out with chores, such as laundry.
      By: Monika Wisniewska
      Hospice volunteers may help out with chores, such as laundry.
    • A hospice volunteer may offer bereavement support to family members.
      By: michaeljung
      A hospice volunteer may offer bereavement support to family members.
    • Hospice facilities can provide palliative care for patients who are in the beginning stages of a terminal illness.
      By: Hakan Kızıltan
      Hospice facilities can provide palliative care for patients who are in the beginning stages of a terminal illness.