I would like to share an article written by our Volunteer Coordinator here at Parentis Hospice. Mrs. Taylor Edwards Harper who holds a Masters Degree in Psychology and is currently a doctoral student at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology. Mrs. Taylor is also a SCGRR Volunteer and the founder of our We Honor our Veterans Program at Parentis Health.
“Here at Parentis we strive to achieve the best care from the time a patient is admitted all the way through their journey, the volunteer program is no exception. This family-run company has always strived to care for each patient as if they were one of our own family members. I created this program with the idea in mind of how can we bring a completely unique and genuine experience to hospice?
We strive to break the barrier the word “hospice” has created and our volunteers are the pinnacle of this experience. “There is nothing more beautiful than someone who goes out of their way to make life beautiful for others.” This is a quote that truly encompasses hospice and all of the incredible work our volunteers do. Hospice is a calling that each and every volunteer within our program has answered.
The Parentis Angels Volunteer Program
Our Parentis Angels do an incredible job of ensuring every patient’s needs are met from crafts and music to pet therapy, companionship, and our incredible We Honor Veterans Program. Each Parentis Angel goes through rigorous training to ensure they have the best understanding of hospice and all that it encompasses.
We continue this training throughout their volunteer experience with Parentis to ensure they have the most up to date and accurate information to better serve our patients. From there we discuss each volunteers’ unique talents and how they would like to bring that talent to our patients. So, every time a patient sees a volunteer it is a completely new experience.
The emotional bond a volunteer and patient create is something so pure and genuine you will never find this kind of experience in any other field. The volunteers understand how crucial they are to each patient’s life and thus creating an incredible experience not only for the patient but volunteer as well. So many of the best ideas for patients have come from our volunteers and their experiences within hospice.
We Honor our Veterans
One of the many unique aspects of engaging with the Parentis Angels is our We Honor Veterans Program. We work directly with the VA to ensure every veteran receives all of the benefits and services they so rightfully deserve. We also match each veteran with a veteran volunteer to guide all of our patients and families with a relatable perspective that not many other people have. We have an array of veteran patients who all come to us with unique backgrounds and needs. As a Parentis Angel, we want to ensure each veteran volunteer is filling those needs to the best of their ability.
From the time of intake with a patient they receive a check-off sheet making sure if they are a veteran, we are made aware immediately. They also receive a flyer showing our monthly meet and greet. This monthly meeting is held with a veteran and myself where families can ask anything about the program or patient-specific benefits. This is a great way for families to not only interact with staff but each other.
There is nothing better than walking a path and realizing you are not alone and this is what we hope to create for each family, a sense of not walking this path alone. Recently we had a volunteer come to us explaining that one of our patient’s families did not understand his benefits. He was transferred from another facility and was never given the option to better understand what it was he was entitled to. Had we not started with We Honor Veterans we would not have known how to effectively help this man and his family. But because we had we were able to help him ensure that when his time came his family would not receive the burden of heavy medical expenses many of which were a part of his benefits package.
Examples such as these happen all too often because families were not informed or facilities do not have the proper training to care for veteran patients. At Parentis we do our best to ensure this is never an issue for our patients or their families. When patients come into Parentis, we want them to focus solely on spending time with their family members and enjoying each precious moment.
Another one of the great aspects of our volunteer program is our pet volunteers. Our dogs go to different facilities and interact with both patients and staff. This is a crucial part of our program as the patients adore the dogs and vice versa. It is also great for our patients’ overall mental health especially in these times any form of new stimulation in their day can have an extreme impact on their quality of life.
All of our dogs are certified and trained in hospice with their handler to better understand each patients’ unique needs. We strive to ensure the safety and well-being of all of our patients so our selection process for pet volunteers is very rigorous. This ensures that we are the best fit for the dog and he/she is the best fit for us and our patients. Each time we receive a new pet volunteer the first visit is always with me to make sure the dog is comfortable in the environment and vice versa. From there we slowly let the handler and pet go out more and more by themselves until we and they feel comfortable with the progress.
Our crafts and music have created one of the most unique and hands-on aspects of this program. We have multiple music volunteers who go into homes playing an array of different instruments and musical genres. It is truly a delight to see the patients light up hearing their favorite song or requesting a specific music volunteer because they loved the experience so much. Many of our music volunteers have now created YouTube videos for patients that are played throughout the facility or home. This ensures not only the safety of our patients but our volunteer as well.
Each month is a new craft for our patients. Our volunteers work very hard designing and coming up with various ideas for crafts and it shows when you see them near a patient’s bedside or hanging on a wall. For example, this month our volunteers created pumpkins with cinnamon stick stems. Specific sensory aspects such as smell have a profound effect on our patient’s memory. We strive to create these unique touches to stimulate and enrich our patients’ lives.
During these tough times, we have taken every precaution possible to ensure not only that our patients are safe but our volunteers as well. This entails scaling back on in-person visits and adapting how we interact with patients while still considering what is best for the patient’s overall health and well-being.
Our music and craft volunteers have worked incredibly hard to evolve their interactions with patients and ensure the safety of everyone involved. Many patients have not had access to family members since March and this takes a massive tole on both their mental and physical health.
Volunteer Program during the Pandemic
Isolation is a huge risk factor for this specific population thus creating an even bigger impact on our volunteer program. Our angels are now more than ever a crucial part of all of our patients’ lives. Through our letters, music, crafts, pet therapy and so much more we strive to fill the gap that this horrible pandemic has created for patients and their families. Every day we strive to be better for our patients and their loved ones.
Each aspect of our volunteer program was specifically designed with the patient’s well-being in mind. These little touches were created to stimulate their mind, body, and soul ensuring each patient lives a long and prosperous life while with our program and volunteers. Our program is always evolving and adapting to better serve our patients and collaborate with all staff members within the company.
The volunteer program has become an essential part of the hospice experience and our angels have become an essential part of the Parentis experience. “