Volunteers are a vital part of the First Choice Hospice Team. Our volunteers have a desire to give comfort, peace, and care to patients, caregivers, and families during the end of life.
Many of our volunteers have personally benefited from hospice services for a family member, which gives them an understanding of the challenges hospice patients and their families or caregiver face. Being able to serve enriches their lives and helps enrich the lives of our patients.
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I have a fairly new client… we’ll call him “Bill.” I’ve been visiting him once a week for the past couple of months.
Bill lives in an assisted living facility; he doesn’t walk anymore and can fall asleep within a few seconds. The first time I met him he was eating lunch with the help of an aide. I stepped in, introduced myself, and asked Bill and the aide if I could sit with him and assist him with his lunch – both agreed. Bill has this very whispery voice, so you must listen carefully to him. After he took a few bites he promptly fell asleep, so I sat there a bit and finally tapped his arm and asked “Bill, do you want me to help you eat some more lunch?” and he responded in a whisper, “No”. After a few more minutes I tapped his arm again. “Bill, are you sure you don’t want any more lunch?” This time, and in a voice that was no longer a whisper, he told me “No”, and he was frowning. I asked him, “Do you want me to stay and we can talk?” to which Bill responded, in a loud voice “NO”! I promptly left.
The following week, before going to meet with Bill, I reread the patient information sheet and saw that he liked to read the Bible. That day I took my Bible to meet with Bill, and as I got close to him, asleep in his wheelchair, I tapped his arm and said “Bill, it’s Joan. Do you want me to read the Bible with you?” His eyes flew open and I got a very definite “YES!” That day we sat together for an hour. I read from sections of the Bible, but mostly I listened and learned about his life, the business he used to own, his children, his parents. I looked at his photo album with him.
Since that day, Bill is always pleased to see me; he doesn’t remember my name, but he remembers my face, and off and on while we talk, or while I help him with a meal, he reaches for my hand and just holds it for a little bit. And if I can get a smile from Bill, my day is complete.
Bill is why I volunteer. I am grateful for any happiness or pleasure I can give him during our short time together. But I have to admit, that the pleasure and happiness I receive from Bill is a wonderful gift that he gives me.