Hospice Care Week 2013 Day 3: The important role of volunteers in hospices

Categories: Community Engagement.

Maurice Healy is one of those volunteers. He works at the North London Hospice as a loss and transition counsellor and explains why volunteering is so important to him:

“Some years ago, I got a letter from the hospice suggesting ways I could help, including bereavement support. Many years before, my eldest daughter died when she was 16. So this was an opportunity for something good to come out of that experience.”

Maurice’s daughter died from a heart condition whilst on a school trip. Talking about that day, Maurice, who is now 79 years-of-age, said philosophically: “She was with her friends, and at 16, where else do you want to be?”

Giving back

Speaking to ehospice, Maurice said the experience of losing a child definitely brought his family closer and his work for the hospice enables him to give something back to other people who have suffered a bereavement. 

But bereavement care was never Maurice’s profession, he worked in consumer affairs before taking an early retirement. In the process of looking for voluntary work, the opportunity to become a bereavement counsellor presented itself.

“I trained and worked for North London Cruse, a local bereavement charity, until I came to the hospice two years ago.” he said.

Maurice now works with one or two clients at a time, offering bereavement counselling and support. And the hospice offers the volunteer counsellors monthly supervision sessions, which Maurice said he “wouldn’t be without.”

A privilege

“The primary work of the hospice – giving care and support to the terminally ill – is both wonderful and desperately needed and I am proud to be associated with it. But the hospice is also committed to support those close to the dying person and it has recognised that many of them need support after their bereavement.

He continued: “People often think the role of hospices is looking after people before they die – and of course it is – but I think it’s important for people to know that there is also support from a hospice after their loved one has died.”

“For me, it is a privilege to accept someone’s grief, its history and complications, to help them come to terms with their loss and to sit with them as they seek the way to manage the transition to a new life without the person they have lost. It enriches me.”

For more information on how to volunteer at your local hospice, visit the Hospice Care Week website.

ehospice has got Hospice Care Week covered so make sure you keep up to date on all the news from the week.

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