Hospice offers programs for terminally ill; needs volunteers | RecordCourier.com

Hospice offers programs for terminally ill; needs volunteers

Staff reports

Many people with terminal illnesses would rather stay at home, surrounded by friends and family, than be in a hospital. For family members, caring for a loved one who is ill can be emotionally trying and physically difficult.

A hospice program is often the answer. Volunteers provide practical support services to patients and their families. Their work can include providing relief for the primary caregiver, grocery shopping, helping with meal preparation, running errands, reading to patients and writing letters for them.

In Carson Valley, Barton Memorial Hospital Hospice of the Valley provides these services, and is now looking to recruit more volunteers to help. A training will begin next Saturday.

“Hospice tries to give end-of-life care in the personal setting of the patient’s home with family and friends supporting the hospice team to further the plan of care,” says volunteer and bereavement coordinator John Grady for the Barton program.

“Hospice tries to treat the whole person rather than just the disease,” he said. The hospice approach is that of an interdisciplinary team working together to develop a plan of care, with doctors, nurses, social workers, chaplains and volunteers working with the family.

Volunteers are vital contributors to the program, Grady said. They extend the service to the community and assist staff in delivery of care to patients. Volunteers are required to receive at least 18 hours of initial training, then continue training at ongoing monthly meetings.

“Pain control is one of our priorities,” he said. “We feel with the pain under control, the patient is able to deal with other closure issues – business, social, spiritual, personal.”

In addition, bereavement care is crucial to supporting surviving family members and friends. Volunteers play an important role in supporting the family. They are trained to provide support to grieving family members through outreach phone calls and visits.

“By reaching out to help others, your life will be greatly enriched,” said Pam VanMierlo, a Barton Hospice nursing supervisor.

For information about the hospice program or about becoming a volunteer, call Grady at 782-1510, or the Barton Memorial Hospital Hospice of the Lake at (530) 542-3171.

The Record-Courier E-mail: rc@tahoe.com

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