“Without a sense of caring, there can be no sense of community.”-Anthony J. D’Angelo
Administrative and Event Volunteers
Supportive Care Volunteers
Some of the services our supportive care volunteers provide include:
- Staying with patients to give respite breaks to caregivers
- Assisting patients and families with household chores
- Sitting with a patient who does not want to be alone
- Reading to the patient
- Listening to their story
- Helping patients and families record history though writing, pictures, and taping
- Playing music
- Helping with creative projects
- Helping the families in their bereavement
- Being there
Supportive Care Training
Patient care volunteers are a crucial part of our program, providing much-needed respite to caregivers as well as companionship to patients, among many other things. A full day of training (or more) is required of all patient care volunteers.
Training sessions are held on a need-only basis and are thus not scheduled. The next session will be held when there is enough need for more help and when there are enough willing volunteers.
The comprehensive training for patient care volunteers includes: understanding diseases and conditions, understanding death and dying, understanding bereavement and the grief process, how to give a patient care and comfort, listening and other communication skills, how to alleviate stress for the patient and family, and the history and philosophy of the program.
If you’d like to be added to the list of potential volunteers, please call or email us.
Comments from a Veteran Patient Care Volunteer
“I believe there are certain things in life we are called to do. My work as a patient care volunteer is one of them. I was with both my parents when they died—my mother in 1984 and my dad ten years later. Palliative and Supportive Care (then Hospice Care of Nantucket) played an important role in my dad’s final weeks. My dad and I talked about what was happening. We grieved the loss of things we’d planned for the future—a trip to Ireland or seeing more Broadway shows. Still, we were grateful for the gift of time to say goodbye. Not long after he died, the opportunity to train as a patient care volunteer was offered. I signed on. The care and comfort I provided my parents felt like the most natural thing in the world. Volunteering feels the same way.
I prepare myself prior to a visit with a patient or family member with mindful breathing and a simple prayer of compassionate intent. Discovering and validating a patient’s fear is what’s important. That’s one of the unique advantages of being a volunteer. Patients open up, not so much about their illness or symptoms, but the emotional aspect of their experience.
One of my first volunteering experiences was with a woman who confided her fear of being alone when she died. Given that information, the care team created a plan that assured her constant companionship with family, friends and volunteers. It made all the difference in the world. Her whole demeanor changed—as though she could finally exhale. Several weeks later, she died peacefully with her son at her side.”
-Michel Magee, volunteer
Research shows that volunteering boosts a sense of well-being, improves the body’s immune system, and contributes to maintaining good health. Helper’s High, a term heard recently in discussions about stress management, health, and integrative medicine, is described as “a feeling of exhilaration and a burst of energy similar to that experienced after intense exercise, followed by a period of calmness and serenity”, by Allan Luks and Peggy Payne, in their book, The Healing Power of Doing Good. Many of the 3,000 Americans involved in volunteer services that were studied for the book, reported a helper’s high that lasted several weeks and improved other aspects of their lives. 90% of the group studied reported that volunteering acted as an antidote to stress, chronic pain, and insomnia. Another study showed that volunteers have experienced decreases in levels of blood pressure, stomach acid and cholesterol counts. So giving to others not only feels good, but actually contributes to a healthier life!