Volunteers a critical part of Hospice’s success

Categories: In The Media.

Over the next four weeks, we’ll examine aspects of palliative care, like funding, caregivers’ roles, and helping loved ones through their final stages of life. This second installment talks about the the roles of volunteers within Hospice and how they can ease the burden on caregivers.

Volunteers are the heart and soul of Hospice. They not only provide care and companionship to those with terminal illnesses, but also offer respite to caregivers who need a break.

And without volunteers, Hospice programs and services wouldn’t be possible. They are the lifeblood and unfortunately, there are never enough. What many may not realize is that they can tailor how often they volunteer based on how much time they have to give.

At Community Home Support Lanark County, their Volunteer Hospice Visiting Service trains volunteers with a short course, where they learn spiritual guidance, bereavement skills and minor medical skills to help with day-to-day care.

Perth area resident and retired teacher Jennifer Jilks is one of those dedicated volunteers who is an asset to Community Home Support Lanark County (CHSLC). After providing care to her aging parents (palliative care to late mother Joan and longterm care to late father Ray) through lengthy illnesses, Jilks knows firsthand how physically and emotionally draining a caregiver’s role can be.

“When it’s your own family and you’re the caregiver, it’s so emotionally draining,” she admitted. “…It’s rewarding to give back, partly because you’re paying it forward and you hope that at some point, the same will be done for you.”

Prior to moving to Perth in the fall of 2010, Jilks took the Foundations in Palliative Care course in 2008 while living in Muskoka. Given to personal support workers and nurses involved in home and long-term care, Hospice Muskoka, where she was volunteering at the time, believed their volunteers would benefit from having it under their belt. It was an eye-opener for Jilks.

“Hospices receive very little government funding and (the course) really synthesized everything that I had felt with my parents,” she said.

While caring for her father, who suffered from a brain tumour, Jilks gained a valuable piece of knowledge: knowing the signs of pain and how to identify it on a patient’s face if they aren’t able to communicate it.

To read the full article, please visit Inside Ottawa Valley.