By MICHAEL DUKE
For the Sunday Times
Volunteers interested in providing hospice care are needed in the Downriver area.
Hospice of Michigan – the largest hospice provider in the state — has care teams who work with patients as well as their families, and have worked with dedicated volunteers in southeast Michigan for decades.
Hospice of Michigan volunteer Sherry Wagenknect has been offering her services to hospice care for 25 years.
Wagenknect – a volunteer coordinator for Arbor Hospice until her retirement in 2014 – decided to return to being a hospice volunteer, citing her gratifying experience with caring for patients along with providing support to families as motivating factors.
“They share their stories, they share about their lives very often,” Wagenknect said. “Even when they can’t communicate they still are able to share some things, so it’s very rewarding.
“Volunteers can provide support to the family by giving time to the patient,” Wagenknect said. “It’s nice when they can have a break and go out to coffee or go to a doctor’s appointment.”
People can benefit from providing hospice care in a multitude of ways, said Alana Knoppow, Hospice of Michigan volunteer program manager. People with family members who were cared for by hospice workers in the past might feel encouraged to do hospice work themselves.
“It makes them feel really good to be able to give someone else the same gifts they were given by volunteers in terms of the time spent with loved ones,” Knoppow said.
Volunteering in Hospice care also can benefit those looking to break into the medical field, said Knoppow, who has written letters of recommendations for a number of Hospice of Michigan volunteers.
“Some volunteers love it because they might be interested in stepping into the medical field, whether if it’s as a physician, nurse or social work,” Knoppow said. “It gives them a chance to get out there and form relationships with patients and families and help shape their careers.”
While all Hospice of Michigan volunteers must go through a training program, no prior experience is required, Knoppow said.
“They don’t have to have a certain skill set, they just need to have that compassion for helping others,” Knoppow said.
For more information on how to become a volunteer click here.