Forty years ago, President Richard Nixon declared the first National Volunteer Week to recognize Americans who give of their time and talents to benefit others. This was the same year, 1974, that the Connecticut Hospice – one of the first hospices in the country – opened its doors changing the way dying persons were cared for in the U.S.
During National Volunteer Week, April 6 – 12, the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization celebrates the work of all the dedicated hospice volunteers who provide support, companionship and dignity to patients and families being served by hospice.
More than 400,000 trained volunteers provide 19 million hours every year to help care for patients and families and to support hospice programs in their mission to serve.
Hospice volunteers are often at the bedside of patients and families but they also assist in the office, help raise awareness, contribute to educational programs, support bereavement programs, provide fundraising support and more.
The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization reports that every year, an estimated 1.6 million patients and their family caregivers receive the high-quality, compassionate care that hospice provides.
“Hospice volunteers help the people they serve live every moment of life to the fullest and enable the organizations they work with to achieve their mission in the community,” said J. Donald Schumacher, NHPCO president and CEO. “Most hospice volunteers choose to give their time helping others because of their own experience with the compassionate care hospice provided to a dying loved one.”
The overwhelming majority of hospice care is provided in the home and hospice volunteers are important members of the interdisciplinary team that make this happen.
It is federally mandated under Medicare that five percent of all patient care hours be provided by trained volunteers reflecting the vital role that volunteers play in the provision of care.
Visit NHPCO’s Caring Connections to learn more about hospice and how it can help those facing a life-limiting illness.