Volunteers needed for hospice care in Northwest Colorado | CraigDailyPress.com

Volunteers needed for hospice care in Northwest Colorado

Local artist Teneil Jayne, a volunteer with Northwest Colorado Health, uses art to provide comfort to people in pain or those that have recently lost someone. The agency is on the lookout for additional volunteers for its hospice program.

— Terminally ill people and their families have support from Northwest Colorado Health Hospice program, which relies on volunteers.

There are currently only four volunteers in Moffat County and many more are needed.

"We especially need volunteers in Moffat County," said Mindy Marriott, volunteer and special events coordinator for Northwest Colorado Health.

Helping people with terminal illness and their families is at the heart of hospice care.

"Hospice focuses on a patient's quality of life and helping them — and their family — heal what can be healed. When a family is faced with the knowledge that their loved one has reached end of life, it can cause turmoil," said Julie Gates, Northwest Colorado director of home services. "Our goal is to walk beside them through this difficult journey, answering their questions and supporting them in any way we can."

People, who are great listeners, compassionate and supportive make great volunteers, Marriott said.

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Teri Mansfield of Craig is a volunteer who believes she gets as much for giving to others as they receive from her.

"I think it is very rewarding. I enjoy talking to people," she said. "I have grown up around older people, and I enjoy hearing their stories and they enjoy telling their stories. If sitting with someone makes them feel better, that's wonderful."

Becoming a volunteer "requires an application, includes a background check and a signed confidentiality agreement," Marriott said.

Volunteers go through a two-day training and at the end receive a certificate and become a certified hospice volunteer.

The next volunteer training will occur from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Dec. 8 and 9 at The Haven in Hayden. Breakfast and lunch are included.

The training will cover concepts in hospice, personal perspectives on death and dying, the role of volunteers, family dynamics, communication skills and the medical aspect of terminal illness.

Hospice volunteers become a part of a team of caregivers.

"They work with an entire interdisciplinary team of professionals including physicians, nurses, social workers, spiritual caregivers, and counselors," Marriott said. "We use a team approach were volunteers provide help to patients and families such as running errands to sitting and offering support and listening."

Volunteers are empowered to advocate for certain services or needs for the patient and/or family, but not all volunteers provide direct care.

"Many volunteers are a little fearful and not comfortable with end of life stages. There are many things you can do that are not directly patient care driven. Making meals, providing support for the caregiving, volunteers work together with the team to make sure that needs are being met," Marriot said.

Volunteering with the program takes as little, or as much, time as a volunteer is able to give.

"You can volunteer as your time allows you to. The team works together to decide who can visit, when and how often. It becomes a hospice volunteer family," Marriott said.

Last year the program cared for 67 patients and their families, made possible with the help of volunteers.

To learn more or register for training, contact Marriott at 970-871-7609.

Contact Sasha Nelson at 970-875-1794 or snelson@CraigDailyPress.com or follow her on Twitter @CDP_Education.