The Cowichan Valley Hospice Society is searching for a couple of special volunteers to sign up for their eight-week training program starting this week.
Training facilitator Kathy Skovgaard said hospice work can take on many forms, but what doesn’t change is the rewards it can provide for both the volunteers and the recipients.
“People invariably come back to us and say that it has really added a sense of meaning and purpose to their life,” she said. “They also say it has helped them with their own sense of what matters and what mortality means to them as they’re exposed to it in a difference capacity.”
Volunteer hospice workers are trained to provide support for individuals in end-of-life care, their families and those experiencing grief from the loss of a loved one. From bedside vigils to grief counselling, volunteers can perform a variety of different tasks once matched up with a family.
“Sometimes volunteering takes the form of going for a walk on the beach or a cup of coffee with someone and having the opportunity to speak with someone,” Skovgaard said.
During training, which is held at the Cowichan Valley Hospice Society (CVHS) in Duncan, participants will be provided the tools they need to be an effective hospice worker. Subjects include Ways of Looking at the Grief Process, Communication, Listening With Empathy, End of Life Changes, and How to Care for Yourself as a Hospice Volunteer.
Trainees will also take a field trip to a cremation and burial centre and learn how to best support families with after-death planning.
The CVHS serves clients from Ladysmith to the Malahat. With two palliative beds in the Lodge on 4th, Skovgaard said the society is always looking for Ladysmith residents to join the training.
“We’re always getting referrals from the area,” she said.
While a lot of retirees are known to take up hospice work, Skovgaard said the training is open to anyone who can make the time commitment.
“The people who come to us as volunteers are just amazing human beings, and we feel privileged to have their support and willingness to donate their time,” she said. “We’re looking for a wide, diverse group of volunteers because we need to try to match people to the community at large.”
Skovgaard said there are also other opportunities for those wanting to lend a helping hand but not necessarily take on respite. Those could include helping out with CVHS fundraisers or volunteering services like gardening.
The training takes place Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. from Oct. 3 to Nov. 28. There is a subsidized cost of $135 to participate, and all applicants will be screened.
To register for training or find out more information about how to help, contact the CVHS office at 250-701-4242.