Hospice recognizes April as National Volunteer Month

Published 7:30 am Saturday, April 22, 2023

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In 1974, President Richard Nixon signed an executive order establishing April as National Volunteer Month. Since then, every U.S. president has signed a Proclamation promoting National Volunteer Month. During April, volunteers are honored and shown appreciation for the generous time and talent devoted to their communities, civic organizations, businesses, charities, and individuals.

Vickie Wacaster, Patient and Hospice Advocate with Aveanna Hospice (formerly Comfort Care Hospice)

Under Medicare, Hospice is federally mandated that trained volunteer’s hours equal at least five percent of the hospice provider’s total patient care hours. This requirement underscores hospice volunteers’ vital role in caring for the dying and their family caregivers and serves to keep hospice providers community oriented and patient and family focused. The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) reports that in a year, an estimated 458,000 hospice volunteers provide more than 21 million hours of service to hospice programs.

Volunteers play a significant role in hospice agencies. “We are grateful to our volunteers every day of the year, but National Volunteer Week is a time when we can celebrate all they do and remind everyone that hospice and palliative care volunteers are angels working among us,” said J. Donald Schumacher, NHPCO president and CEO.

Many hospice volunteer opportunities are available for men and women of all ages and backgrounds. Hospice has two types of volunteers, Indirect Patient Care Volunteers, and Direct Patient Care Volunteers.

Indirect patient care volunteers do such things as assist the office staff in answering telephones, typing letters, and helping with special events and various clerical tasks.

Direct patient care volunteers do such things as relieve primary caregivers, help with meal preparation, plant a garden or flowers, read to the patient, help write cards and letters, offer comfort to the patient and family, and provide other types of companionship.

In Hospice, we believe that every moment of life is a treasure to be lived. Please contact a hospice agency if you are interested in making a difference by becoming a hospice volunteer or if you would like more information on volunteering for Hospice.

“Volunteers do not necessarily have the time: they just have the heart.” (Author unknown)

— Vickie C. Wacaster is a Patient and Hospice Advocate for Aveanna Hospice (formerly Comfort Care Hospice).