OHIO VALLEY — April is National Hospice Volunteer Appreciation month and Pleasant Valley Home Health and Hospice recently celebrated their handful of volunteers.
Those who volunteer with hospice services work in conjunction with other members of the hospice team and are under the supervision of the volunteer coordinator who provides support and resources to help the volunteers. The volunteer’s most important role is to be a loving and supportive presence as volunteers become an essential part of the patients’/families’ emotional, social, and physical well-being during the last stages of life shared Pleasant Valley Home Health and Hospice Volunteer Coordinator Angie Thomas.
Thomas explained the different areas of service her five volunteers provide are patient care which entails companionship, shopping, caregiver relief/support, meal preparation, and light housekeeping; administrative care which entails answering the phone in the hospice office, assisting the office staff with duties within the agency, and assembling mailings; bereavement care which entails following up with the families after the death of their loved one through visits, calls, or cards, assisting with the memorial services, and assembling bereavement mail outs.
Volunteers Ruth Walker, Reverend Annetta Durst, and Gewanna Nichols like to play music and sing for their patients and their families. Durst explained she plays the mandolin, Walker plays a guitar, and Nichols plays and autoharp and they all sing. Thomas shared even patients who are laid up in bed and are not responsive to much outside stimuli will show at least some response to the music.
Durst commented she believes the patients enjoy the string music because it is lively. Not only does the patient enjoy and respond to the music, but the caregivers receive comfort from it as well.
“I’ve enjoyed going to the homes and singing,” said Nichols. “I like that real well and of course I like grievance counseling.”
The volunteers host a grief support group along with the Mason County Action Group which is held every Tuesday, 5-6 p.m., at the Gene Salem Senior Center located at 101 Second Street in Point Pleasant. These meetings are open to anyone in the community needing support dealing with the loss of a friend or loved one.
In the last few years, the grief support group has grown in numbers of those who attend, currently eight to 10 individuals come regularly. Thomas explained they started to incorporate different activities during the meetings such as painting, adult coloring, making memory jars, making memory pillows, and other crafting activities to bring in more individuals. While partaking in these activities, people would naturally start to share about their grievances.
The volunteers through Pleasant Valley Home Health and Hospice cover Mason, Meigs, and Gallia counties with their services.
Pastor Bud Richmond who has been a volunteer for 30 years now shared he saw a great need for volunteers in this field when he began.
“I’ve even put people’s commodes in, babysat, and do work for them over the past (years),” said Richmond.
Richmond also visits the Lakin State Hospital to talk with the patients and offer ministerial services to them.
Durst commented she had always wanted to start volunteering in this field after her days of pastoring. After the passing of her husband and the care he received through home health and hospice, she was ready to begin volunteering five years ago. She called Pleasant Valley Home Health and Hospice to see if they needed anymore Chaplin volunteers.
“I’m glad I started when I did because the second person that I met when they sent me out was one I graduated with and she wasn’t Christian, so she got saved and that really caused me to be happy,” said Durst.
Richmond and Durst have conducted funerals for some of their patients who passed.
Thomas added volunteer services in the office are also very helpful as well as one volunteer Betty Mayes will help out with office duties which lets Thomas work with the patients’ families.
New volunteers are welcomed and appreciated into this field and those interested can contact Thomas at 304-675-7400.
Erin Perkins is a staff writer for Ohio Valley Publishing. Reach her at (304) 675-1333, extension 1992.