McLean’s new Hospice volunteer graduates are from many backgrounds. The seventeen people are retirees including a former nurse, a hospital worker, guidance counselor and property manager, to an active policewoman, a singer, two Reiki masters, active industry or insurance professionals, a pet therapist, a high school student and a homemaker with school-age children.
Volunteers are dispersed geographically throughout McLean’s service area coming from Avon, Bloomfield, Burlington, Canton, Enfield, Granby, New Hartford, Simsbury, W. Suffield, and Windsor Locks. Most will participate in direct patient and family support while others will support program administration.
With this graduating class, McLean Hospice will enjoy a cadre of more than 85 volunteers whose roles will help create order out of the often chaotic world of families dealing with terminal illness. “Whether the patient in in their own home surrounded by loved ones, in an assisted living facility or in a skilled nursing home, the challenges for the family are tremendous,” explains Lori Scudder, Volunteer Coordinator. The McLean Hospice team of nurses, therapists and social workers provide extensive skilled care and support. Scudder elaborated on the vaule of the volunteers as part of the team. “They provide the extra touches to make the end of life more comfortable such as, reading, listening, hand-holding, reminiscing, companioning and sharing special treats. They do everything from creating special holiday bags for their hospice families, to arranging special events, to keeping bedside vigils, so no one ever has to die alone if family is not nearby. McLean Hospice’s team of volunteers is exceptional, all sharing their special gifts and talents unconditionally. Families are so appreciative of all the volunteers contribute in time and presence, and we receive so many letters of appreciation.”
The class underwent 20 hours of specialized training on what to expect in the process of dying, how to support loved ones and patients, how to understand dementia, and what the Hospice team teaches families. The graduates wrote about a variety of important things they gained from the classes. Heather Sinon, West Suffield, appreciated how she learned “ways to bring help and comfort…and enrich the lives of others to the moment of death” She went on to comment on what a wonderful privilege it is to “to uplift others in a time of need.” A Canton graduate wrote that training was “eye-opening and fantastic.” Wendy Morneau, Windsor Locks, commented that as she grew in her knowledge of herself and that she was more than ever “totally committed to helping people better understand Hospice as an option as the team is there to help the whole family throughout the Hospice experience.” Several mentioned they better understood there is no time line for creating a sense of joy even at end of life; that loving presence and just being available to listen well, are gifts. A Granby graduate mentioned she learned how to be more confident to support families who are already in grief from the point of diagnosis. It was evident that all are anxious to begin their service with McLean Hospice.
McLean Hospice cares for patients in the Farmington Valley through Bloomfield, Windsor and West Hartford, and recently expanded to Bristol and Burlington. To learn more visit www.McLeanHospice.org or call 860-658-3980. New volunteer classes are held in the spring and fall.