PALMER — Hospice volunteers are part of an effective hospice care team, serving in various capacities as caring companions and playing an important role in enhancing the quality of life for both the hospice patient and their family. Hospice volunteer support includes companionship, respite, errands, transportation, and a general willingness to be a caring friend.
Since 1987, Wing Hospice has provided care and support to terminally ill patients and families throughout the Quaboag Hills and Pioneer Valley. The mission of Wing Hospice is to uphold the reverence for life by helping the dying live as comfortably and fully as possible and to educate the community on end-of-life care choices. The staff of hospice consists of registered nurses; a medical director and associate medical director; medical social workers; pastoral care; physical, occupational, and speech therapists; home health aides; and trained hospice volunteer caregivers.
Nine local residents recently completed the Wing Hospice nine-week volunteer training program and received their certificates of completion at a recent luncheon in their honor.
“This was the largest and most attentive group we have trained as volunteer caregivers in a while,” said Marcia Turner, Wing Hospice manager. “It is great to have fresh faces. It is a real blessing to have these folks as a part of our team.”
The program orients the participant to the essentials of hospice care and offers comprehensive training in the knowledge and skills that will enable a positive interaction with hospice patients and their families.
The recent volunteer graduates are Elizabeth Williams, Maureen Fuller, Patricia Harrington, Wendy Baker, Bernadette Gelinas, Diane Jurczyk, Judith Tirrell, Nancy Ungerwitter, and Beverly Rooney.
“I feel that this experience is my way of paying it forward, and very humbling,” said Williams, who noted that she received great care from various community volunteers following the tornado last year and wanted to give back in some way. She added, “when my mother-in-law passed in February under hospice care in Rhode Island, I was there as a part of this process, and knew I wanted to do more to help families in need.”
Tirrell has been a nurse for many years and witnessed the care and compassion that hospice volunteers provide to patients and families. “I have always wanted to become more involved and to be there unconditionally during this process. This is a way for me to help in a new way,” she said.
The newly trained volunteers will work closely with Wing Hospice professional staff as a part of the care team. For more information on how to become involved as a hospice volunteer, call Fr. Domenic Ciannella at (413) 283-9715.
“We are so grateful for our volunteers,” said Ciannella. “They bring enthusiasm and compassion to the team and have so much to contribute just by being themselves.”
Wing Hospice serves communities throughout the Quaboag Hills and Pioneer Valley, including Belchertown, Bondsville, Brimfield, East Longmeadow, Granby, Hampden, Holland, Ludlow, Monson, Palmer, Springfield (eastern sections), Thorndike, Three Rivers, Wales, Warren, West Brookfield, West Warren, and Wilbraham. The program also provides hospice care to residents of Palmer Healthcare Center, Wingate at Wilbraham, LifeCare Center of Wilbraham, and Quaboag Skilled Care Center in West Brookfield.