Thursday, March 27, 2014

Hospice Volunteer Screening Process

Can you imagine letting someone you have never met before into your home to sit with your relative while you go out and run errands?

What if the relative your relative was terminally ill, diagnosed with 6 months or less to live, and you were incredibly stressed at the prospect of caring for them until they die?

This situation is essentially what most families on hospice care are asking hospice volunteers to do for them.  Volunteers are asked to visit patients and families about one time per week for one to four hours per visit.  During a time that a hospice volunteer is spending time with a patient, the patient's family member might go out to pick up groceries, get maintenance for their car, or go to a doctor's appointment they had been putting off for some. 

So much is asked of the individuals involved in this situation.  The patient and the family must trust that the hospice volunteer is a trustworthy trained individual who will be responsible and compassionate when caring for the patient.  The volunteer must trust the family will respect and value them as one who truly wants to help.  What a high stakes relationship this can be with both parties being so vulnerable!

Due to how delicate the relationship can be between the volunteer, the patient, and the patient's family, hospice volunteers are required to undergo extensive screening and training before they are allowed permitted to begin their volunteer assignments.  This certainly is not the type of volunteering you can just show up and start in one day! 

Federal laws require all individuals who will be exposed to private patient information to complete background checks before volunteering.  Medi Hospice screens all volunteers by having them complete a state and national background check.  Face to face interviews with all potential volunteers are conducted by the hospice volunteer coordinator.  In addition to that, volunteers must provide the contact information of three references who can be called to verify this hospice volunteer program is a good fit for the applicant.

The screening process is quite extensive.  Volunteers might feel like they are applying to a job with all the listed requirements.  These measures are taken to protect the hospice organizing the volunteer program.  Hospices do not want to send in just anyone to care for these families dealing with such end of life issues.  Safety for patients and families is always at the forefront of these actions. 

Hospices want to ensure the be sure the best possible administered by the best, most compassionate people.  That way all involved can feel comfortable with the volunteer services being provided.  Any fears or worries a family will feel when inviting a stranger into their home to care for a loved one can be eased, at least a little, in knowing that a well screened, qualified, compassionate volunteer is being sent into their home.

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