(Alexandria, Va) – The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization reports that more than 550,000 individuals across the nation are giving of their time and talents as trained hospice volunteers. These volunteers contribute more than 25 million hours of service annually and reach 1.5 million patients and their family caregivers every year.
These figures, part of the NHPCO report Facts & Figures: Hospice Care in America were shared at NHPCO’s recent 6th National Conference on Volunteerism and Family Caregiving held last weekend in Orlando, Fla.
As part of the conference events, NHPCO released the newly revised edition of The Hospice Volunteer Program Resource Manual.
Hospice organizations have a responsibility to ensure that volunteers are well trained and well cared for and this manual will contribute to those efforts.
“Hospice volunteers are individuals who have stepped forward to make a difference in the lives of other people in their communities and they are vital members of the hospice and palliative care interdisciplinary team,” said J. Donald Schumacher, NHPCO president and CEO.
“The help, kindness and support that patients and families receive from hospice volunteers often profoundly changes their experience at the end of life.”
The manual has been updated to reflect the 2008 hospice Conditions of Participation—the federal requirements that all hospices must meet—and includes fresh ideas on recruitment, retention, training, volunteer manager skills development, program development, and more.
The publication includes a CD-ROM that assists managers in personalizing a volunteer program that meets the specific needs of an organization. Materials that can be adapted include competency checklists, surveys, policies and procedures, visit logs, job descriptions, training outlines, and more.
To ensure that volunteers remain an integral part of hospice care, it is federally mandated that at least five percent of patient care hours be provided by trained volunteers. Providers must track and document this carefully.
When a hospice invests in establishing a fully-functioning volunteer support program, the five percent rule becomes a guidepost, instead of burden.
“I know it costs money to run a well-coordinated volunteer program, however, on every level the benefits exceed the costs. Volunteers and their gift of service can have a huge impact on both the quality of the care your organization provides and its bottom line. A well-trained, engaged volunteer who spends time with patients and families can pick up on changes or challenges before they become crises,” noted Schumacher.
The Hospice Volunteer Program Resource Manual (item #820114) is available from the NHPCO Marketplace and may be ordered online, nhpco.org/marketplace, by phone at 1-800-646-6460, or by downloading and returning theVolunteer Manual order form.