Health Report: Fairbanks Foundation Health Partners share what hospice volunteers may experience

Published: Mar. 22, 2022 at 4:19 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - Foundation Health Partners (FHP) is seeking new volunteers for their hospice program after it was placed on hold due to the pandemic.

According to Rebekah Capen, Social Worker for Home Health and Hospice Foundation Health Partners, working in end of life care requires a full team of dedicated individuals.

“Hospice care is care provided to somebody at end of life,” Capen explained. “Typically that’s within the last six months of life, when hospice becomes involved in somebody’s care. It’s an interdisciplinary approach to care. It includes nursing staff, CNAs, a chaplain or a spiritual advisor, social workers, our volunteers, and then a medical director - [that] is what is included in our team here in Fairbanks.

Capen continued, “To be a volunteer, one thing we ask for is that you have a hospice heart, which means being able to be present with somebody. We really try to cater our goals of care for a patient so that they’re personalized. Somebody has goals for end of life that might be different than another patient’s goals at end of life. We really try to see what strengths and values our patients have, and then cater our plan of care to them. So it looks different for every patient and their family and loved ones.”

Every volunteer can bring their own strengths to the field, as patient needs will vary from person to person.

“For our volunteers, we ask for whatever you feel like you can contribute to our team, which might be something, you know, more physical,” Capen elaborated. “We’ve had volunteers that specifically just spent time with a patient’s husband and did lawn care because it gave that husband the companionship of having some support, and somebody to listen to, but it was very task driven. We have other patients that do life recordings, where we do video recordings of patients telling their life stories, which can be very valuable. Just going through the written part of asking people about their past, their life experiences, what’s most important to them, and then we do a video recording of that. That’s a legacy video that we leave with the patient’s family if that’s something they want to do. That’s something that volunteers might be involved in.”

But for those looking to volunteer, there is a small number of logistical hurdles to pass before training begins according to Capen. “Just the same as it would be for volunteering at the hospital, you’re going to have those logistical things that you go through. There’s going to be an application process. There’s going to be an interview with a volunteer coordinator. You’re gonna have a background check, and then occupational health requirements the same as staff do. What we’re looking for is people that have a unique need and that want to serve others in this time of life. We ask that if you’re volunteering for hospice, that maybe you haven’t had your own loss or grief experience within the last 12 months, just because we want to make sure... your own wellness is important to us as well, so we want to make sure that you are not in your own grief journey and trying to volunteer at that time. We just ask that you wait until that 12 months is over, or come in for an interview with us and we’ll talk about it.”

Those who are interested in volunteering can contact the FHP Hospice Facility to schedule an interview by calling (907) 458-3090.

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