Top Questions Hospice Volunteers & Managers Are Asking Today
Top Questions Hospice Volunteers & Managers Are Asking Today

Top Questions Hospice Volunteers & Managers Are Asking Today

Volunteer training and services have been put on hold for many hospice agencies. The COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on this core hospice service in many ways. Medicare stepped in and removed the 5% requirement to lighten the burden, but some say this has had a negative effect. The Hospice & Home Care Webinar Network interviewed industry expert and frequent speaker, Gary Gardia, in a recent Essential Insights podcast. Gary has been both a volunteer manager and a hospice volunteer for over 35 years. He is passionate about hospice volunteers and encourages everyone to rise above the challenges presented by the pandemic. Gary believes agencies should not only meet but exceed the 5% requirement and find innovative ways to do so.

During the interview, Gary addressed the top questions asked by volunteers and managers. Educating both roles is key to clarifying the confusion and alleviating concerns associated with hospice care and COVID-19. Below are a few of the questions from the podcast.

Is hospice volunteer work depressing?
This is a common question that Gary himself asked back in 1983 when he entered the volunteer field. He found that hospice work actually “lifted him up” and brought meaning to his life. He said, “One of the gifts this work gave to me was a constant reminder that our time is limited…and how important it is to spend every moment of our time doing things that bring meaning to life.” Hospice work is not for everyone, but often volunteers find this work rewarding in ways they never imagined. Hospice is often referred to as a gift, but when you volunteer you also receive the gifts of providing hospice care.

Can I even be with people with the COVID restrictions?
During the virtual interview, Gary responded with “We’re together right now and I think we are together in a very meaningful way, talking about some very meaningful and deep concepts.” Distance has kept us physically apart, but technology has found ways to keep us together. Phones, computers, Zoom, Facetime, and all different avenues are used to bring us together and connect while still complying with COVID restrictions. Connection is about the intention and meaning you put into it, we can still be present from afar.

Does it really matter if we are not meeting the 5% since Medicare is currently flexible about it?
“It matters. Everything matters.” Gary believes there are countless opportunities that have presented themselves despite COVID-19. He encouraged us to not only continue to meet the 5% but strive for 10%! One of his examples has a volunteer and patient set up a virtually guided interview and create a video for people to leave behind for their loved ones, as a lasting memory. Volunteer managers should “Constantly keep looking for opportunities, there are so many of them.”

Since volunteers are not able to visit in many cases, what should volunteer managers be doing with their time?
“The 5% is coming back.” During this time Gary urges hospice agencies to expand the e-service interventions and re-vamp volunteer job descriptions. “These are the days to sit down at your desk and say how can I double the number of services we provide through volunteers?” His examples include prayer calls, bereavement calls, mediations, and reading poetry over video. Gary believes “Every second of your time is valuable.”

Every single second of your time is valuable and we thank you for taking the time to read this post. Don’t forget to listen to the Essential Insight’s podcast interview for even more inspiration, please click here to listen in.