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Hospice seeking to build volunteer ranks

“Being a Hospice volunteer offers a unique opportunity to build very special relationships,” said Misty Epps, social worker and volunteer coordinator for Halifax Regional Hospice and Palliative Care, “not only with patients, but with their families as well.”

Epps, who joined the Hospice team last fall, has a bachelor’s degree in social work from Mary Baldwin College and comes to Halifax Regional Hospice from Memorial Hospital of Martinsville and Henry County where she served as social worker and volunteer/bereavement coordinator. 

The Halifax County native is glad to be home and is actively seeking to build the Hospice volunteer ranks.

According to Epps, Halifax Regional Hospice currently has 19 active volunteers, six of whom serve patients and families at MeadowView Terrace in Clarksville and four who are trained to provide spiritual support.

 “Hospice volunteers give from the heart,” Epps said. “They give freely of their time to provide comfort and support to patients and families and see it as an honor to walk with them on their final journey. And for many the relationship continues through friendship with the family even after the death of the patient.”

Halifax Regional Hospice volunteers can serve in a variety of ways. Some choose to visit patients to provide companionship and support whether they are in their home, the hospital or a long-term care community. 

Volunteers can provide the caregiver a personal break by sitting with the patient allowing the caregiver free time to spend as he wishes. Some volunteers enjoy helping patients journal their life experiences or record the story of their life. 

Others may read to patients or engage them in card or board games. Some with musical skills enjoy playing an instrument or singing to and with patients. Volunteers with training and/or a background in spiritual care are also needed.

According to Epps, other types of volunteering opportunities are available including providing telephone support from home and using talents such as quilting or crafting to create special gifts for patients. 

Administrative support and assisting with fundraising events are other services where volunteers are needed. 

Those considering volunteering with Halifax Regional Hospice and Palliative Care must be at least 18 years old, submit an application, pass a criminal background check, pass a TB skin test, participate in the Halifax Regional Hospital orientation program and complete the Hospice volunteer training program.

 “Our training program is comprehensive,” Epps said, “and helps prepare volunteers for any number of situations they may encounter.”

The training program covers the history and philosophy of hospice care, patient/family dynamics, communication skills, grief and bereavement, death and dying/spiritual awareness, safety, the physical aspect of dying and the role of the volunteer. 

 “Halifax Regional Hospice is committed to enhancing the quality of life of our patients and their families, and we believe the presence of volunteers is imperative to achieving that goal,” Epps said. “We think it is important for our volunteers to know as much as they can about end of life issues and to realize also that they, as a volunteer, are never alone. They are part of a team that supports each other as well as patients and families. We will provide the training to equip people for the unique opportunity to make a difference in the lives of the terminally ill and their families. All they need is a compassionate heart and the desire to serve others in their final journey.”  

To learn more about volunteering with Halifax Regional Hospice and Palliative Care, call Misty Epps at 434-517-3058. To download an application or to apply online, visit www.hrhs.org.