I worked as a scheduler for a Home Support Agency where Home Support Workers would go into the homes helping people with their care and maintaining their independence. During this time, there was a new program brought in called the Palliative Program where the Home Support Workers would go into the homes of terminally ill patients again helping them stay in their homes with the help of trained workers and nurses. I would listen to the worker’s heartwarming stories, sad and happy, and decided I would like to do something in that field when I retired.
I started volunteering with Langley Hospice Society in the office. Having that experience with hospice helped me make up my mind to take the hospice basic training course. I did so at the start for personal reasons but then after listening to other volunteers talking about their experiences at the Residence I asked to be a volunteer.
I have never before been so privileged as to be a part of such a lovely experience. I was very nervous at the start but before long it was the patients and the families who put me at ease. I can come to do a shift frazzled and as soon as I enter, there is such a feeling of peace and contentment. When I leave, I leave with such a good feeling, knowing I have made people happy just being there for them and their families. I have learned so much about living and dying – and it is the patients who have been my teachers. Some patients come into Residence ready to accept the journey they are on and for others it is not that easy. Hopefully, as volunteers, we have made that journey easier for those people. It is so heartwarming to go into the family room of the Residence and see family, friends and people who have never met, all sitting around sharing a common bond.
I had a lovely experience sitting with a patient who was afraid to die and was alone. The nurses asked me if I would mind sitting with him. I sat my whole shift with him and held his hand and when my shift was over, I asked the next volunteer if I could sit a bit longer with her and we both sat on either side of the bed, each holding his hands and he slipped away so peacefully. Experiences like this you cannot explain to people. Just knowing he did not die alone is to me the meaning of being a volunteer.
There are so many stories I could tell but they are all stories I will cherish forever. When I say “My volunteering is very rewarding to me and I love every minute I am there”, I mean it from the heart.
Hospice Residence Volunteer