National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization salutes the estimated 430,000 trained hospice volunteers providing more than 19 million hours of service to hospice programs each year.
National Volunteer Week is April 23 – 29, 2017 and those dedicated individuals offering support, companionship and hope to those facing a life-limiting illness deserve special recognition for the difference they make in America.
“Hospice began as a volunteer-driven movement in this country more than 40 years ago and volunteers continue to play an indispensable role in enabling hospice and palliative care organizations to offer the best care possible for patients and their families and caregivers,” said Edo Banach, NHPCO president and CEO.
Mercedes Ibarra believes sincerely in the hospice mission of providing quality, compassionate end-of-life care to those who are dealing with a terminal diagnosis. She became a volunteer at Silverado Hospice Los Angeles in 2013 and says that her experience working with hospice patients has been “life-changing”.
Before becoming a hospice volunteer, I never knew that I could love someone I didn’t know that whole heartedly,” shares Mercedes. “And I like knowing that families feel that there is someone there to support them and their loved one.”
Mercedes has shared her story as part of a national campaign, Moments of Life: Made Possible by Hospice, which shows that hospice is not about giving up, but rather making more meaningful moments possible. In “The Gift of Volunteering,” viewers are given a glimpse into the life of a hospice volunteer as the camera follows Mercedes on two separate patient visits. Mercedes and her patients dance, smile, laugh, cry and live in the moment.
Hospice volunteers often serve patients and families at the bedside but they also assist in the office, help raise awareness, contribute to educational programs, and provide fundraising support and more.
It is federally mandated under Medicare that five percent of all patient care hours be provided by trained volunteers. This regulation reflects the vital role that volunteers play in the hospice philosophy of care and ensures that a hospice program has roots deep in the community.
More than 1.65 million patients in the U.S. are cared for by hospice every year.
To learn more about hospice or to contact a local hospice, visit the Moments of Life: Made Possible by Hospice website.