Role of the Hospice Volunteer

GOAL: To explain the role of the volunteer within the Hospice Team.

OBJECTIVES: Upon completion of this session, the participant should be able to:

  • Understand how volunteer referrals are made and list a variety of assignments that volunteers might be given.
  • Know the types of information that need to be shared back to the hospice team, and identify the process for reporting volunteer visits.
  • Be familiar with volunteer policies and guidelines.
  • Complete the required elements for his/her volunteer file.

Hospice Volunteer Job Description

Specific Responsibilities (Essential Functions):

  • Maintain contact with patient and family through visits and phone calls.
  • Provide emotional support to the patient and family through active listening.
  • Help eliminate the feeling of isolation by providing companionship when needed.
  • Assist the Hospice Interdisciplinary Team (IDT) in identifying the needs of the patient and the family.
  • Assist with recreational needs and/or social activity.
  • As indicated by the IDT care plan, may assist with personal care.
  • Provide respite time for the family.
  • Facilitate home care by providing supportive services such as shopping and necessary transportation.
  • Observe changes in the patient or family and report these to the Volunteer Coordinator.
  • Participate in Interdisciplinary Team (IDT) meetings.
  • Document patient/family contacts, and record information in accordance with agency policy.
  • Maintain patient and family confidentiality at all times.
  • May support the family through the bereavement period, by attending services, making follow-up calls to survivors, and referring family members with special needs to appropriate Interdisciplinary Team members.
  • May assist Hospice staff with bereavement visits and co-facilitate bereavement support groups under the guidance of the Bereavement Coordinator.
  • May provide spiritual care visits and phone calls under the guidance of the Spiritual Care Coordinator.
  • May assist Hospice staff in community education and Hospice promotion.
  • Perform other functions as may be assigned.

Volunteer Policies and Guidelines

Volunteers are required to be familiar with the Volunteer Policies and Practices. These are important policies to know. In addition, please follow these general guidelines at all times:

  • Remember that you represent Home Health & Hospice Care. Your courteousness and respectful approach to visits will make a difference!
  • Remember CONFIDENTIALITY at all times – please discuss your clients and their situations with other volunteers and staff members of Home Health & Hospice Care. Do not discuss client names, addresses or details with friends and family members.
  • Your observations and concerns about clients are important and can help Home Health & Hospice Care provide better care. Please leave a brief message for the Volunteer Manager after each visit describing your activities – 603-557-2806, or email [email protected].
  • Please document your volunteer visits. You may either complete the paper form on a monthly basis, or use the web-based activity report to record your visit immediately. Immediate concerns that need to be discussed with the Volunteer Manager or another member of the hospice team can be called in at any time at 603-424-3822.
  • Encourage clients to call the Volunteer Manager with any concerns about volunteer visits or type of service needed.
  • Do not give out your home phone number.
  • Do not accept gifts from clients or provide gifts. Please call the Volunteer Manager if this becomes an issue. This is common and can feel uncomfortable to handle gracefully.
  • Help preserve our standards for infection prevention by always washing your hands before and after providing any cleaning or food preparation services. Many of our clients are more susceptible to infection due to age or illness.
  • Please accept our gratitude and all client compliments! Know that your time and caring is a gift to our clients and your community.

Volunteer Restrictions

While volunteers help in a lot of capacities, there are a few things that volunteers can never do, and other things that should only be done with hospice staff guidance:

  • Volunteers may never handle or administer medication in any setting.
  • Volunteers may never feed patients in a facility environment, including nursing homes and the Community Hospice House. (This is a New Hampshire state regulation.) Volunteers may assist with meal preparation.
  • Occasionally volunteers may be given permission to assist feeding a patient in the home. This should not be done without prior approval. Feeding a patient may put them at risk for choking, so our hospice team would need to identify that it is safe before you would be asked to feed someone.
  • Volunteers should not lift patients. In the Community Hospice House, volunteers may assist in repositioning a patient under the direct supervision of a hospice nurse or LNA.
  • Volunteers do not typically participate in personal care. If you are providing respite care, you may occasionally be asked to accompany a patient to the bathroom for safety in walking, but the patient should be able to toilet his/herself.
  • Often patients’ needs change as their disease progresses. If a patient for whom you are providing respite develops needs beyond those appropriate in your role, please let the volunteer manager know immediately so that we can reassess the situation and make changes as appropriate.

When in doubt or you have questions, call the agency. You are never alone in an assignment. Even if it is after hours, there is always a nurse on call, an administrator on call, and the Volunteer Manager available by cell phone.

Volunteer Reporting

You will be required to report your hospice volunteer activity. You may use the paper form to report activity monthly. Just click here to view and print the report, then fill it out and mail it to Tanya Prather at HHHC, 7 Executive Park Drive, Merrimack, NH 03054. You may also choose to do your report online by clicking on the "Activity Report" tab at the top of this page.

Volunteer File

As part of our Medicare regulatory obligation, you will be required to have an active volunteer file with Home Health & Hospice Care. Learn more about your file.


Additional Links

Recommended Library Resources

  • Book: Friend of the Family: A Hospice Volunteer's Experience by Sally Lebowitz
  • Book: Your Gift by Sharon Olson