Sandy Parker’s Experience as an Eleventh-Hour Volunteer

One basic value of hospice care is that no one should die alone without support or the presence of loved ones. In addition to caring for the patient, the loved ones of hospice patients deserve and benefit from support as well. Eleventh-hour volunteers are trained to keep vigil and provide that supportive presence to patients and families in the final hours of life. The following is Sandy’s story and her journey as an eleventh-hour volunteer.

Why Did Sandy Become an Eleventh-Hour Volunteer?

Sandy was already a volunteer with Premier Hospice & Home Health before she became an eleventh-hour volunteer. When the program director approached her asking if she would like to join the eleventh-hour volunteer program, Sandy immediately answered that she would. Since being with the program from its conception in 2015, Sandy has sat with more than 10 patients and continues to dedicate her time in between her busy schedule.

How the Eleventh-Hour Has Impacted Sandy

Sandy spoke about one striking moment that has stood out for her during her time as an eleventh-hour volunteer. She recalls sitting with a patient and his wife during her third assignment. As they were sitting knee to knee, Sandy and the wife talked for a long while beside the unresponsive husband. Despite the circumstances, her and the wife were laughing as Sandy listened to stories about the couple’s lives together. Sandy explained that it was so nice to see that the patient’s wife was so positive about life.

It was like two ladies telling stories over coffee.

As they continued talking, Sandy noticed changes in the patient’s breathing. When Sandy turned to check on the patient again, she noticed he had passed. When she told the wife, her response was, “What? Really? That was so peaceful.” They way she responded was very calm and steady.

Sandy went on to explain that she firmly believes the last thing to go is a patient’s hearing. As she explained this to the wife, Sandy said she believed the husband had heard them and realized how calm and joyful his wife was, and felt it was alright to leave.

“This encounter really made an impact on me because of the peacefulness of the situation. The wife had such a joyful attitude and I found it so wonderful. I was so blessed to be there for that moment.” -Sandy Parker

Why Does Sandy Continue to Volunteer?

“There is something about being with someone who is dying. Often, there can be a lot of stress on family members or friends, so someone needs to be with and advocate for the patient. As I said, I truly believe the last thing to go is hearing, and I don’t want the environment to not be peaceful for the patient. I need to be there for the patient and make sure there is a thread of continuity.”

“It is an honor to walk into a situation where I don’t know anyone and I am able to act as something concrete for both the patient and the family. I blessed to be able to put myself in these situations and be calm and focused. I always make sure to recognize the patient and acknowledge them when maybe others aren’t able to.”

If you or someone you know is interested in becoming an eleventh-hour volunteer, please contact Laura Ehmann at (602) 274-7572 or laura.ehmann@premierhospiceaz.com.

Susan Lee’s Experience as an Eleventh-Hour Volunteer

One basic value of hospice care is that no one should die alone without support or the presence of loved ones. In addition to caring for the patient, the loved ones of hospice patients deserve and benefit from support as well. Eleventh-hour volunteers are trained to keep vigil and provide that supportive presence to patients and families in the final hours of life. The following is Susan’s story and her journey as an eleventh-hour volunteer.

Why Did Susan Become an Eleventh-Hour Volunteer?

Many eleventh-hour volunteers’ journeys begin the same – a loved one passed away and they were unable to be there. It can be scary to leave a loved one’s side for even a second during their last moments of life. Susan Lee’s story is one very similar.

When Susan’s mother passed away, she had left her side for just a little while and, tragically, was not there for her mother’s last breath. Her mother passed away alone, and this is a fear that every family member struggles with when caring for a loved one during their final moments of life. Susan can relate to this feeling, and her motivation as a volunteer is to ensure others don’t experience it.

When Susan was approached to volunteer, she was immediately ready to help. She says,

“There are so many people who don’t have family around, and I don’t want anyone to pass away alone. I am someone there to watch over them, to make sure they’re getting their medication, and to ensure they’re comfortable.”

Susan has been with the program since its beginning in 2015. Since then, she has sat with more than 60 patients. As an eleventh-hour volunteer, Susan can make certain no one dies alone or that family members have someone to be with them.

How the Eleventh-Hour Has Impacted Susan

It was Susan’s first time as an eleventh-hour volunteer.

She was with a gentleman who had nobody. Susan could tell that even though the patient was not conscious, he could hear her when she was talking or feel her touching his hand.

When the time came for him to pass, the peacefulness that came over the patient was overcoming. Susan explains that she could see all the worry and pain leaving his face. As this was happening, a sense of peacefulness came over Susan. She felt privileged to be there for his last moments.

She’ll never forget this first experience and its impact.

Why Does Susan Continue to Volunteer?

“I continue to volunteer because everybody needs someone with them during that time. They’re unable to speak for themselves, so you need to be that voice for them. I can be there to watch them and make sure they aren’t in pain so they can rest peacefully.” – Susan Lee

“One of the best parts about it, is that even if I’m not feeling well that day, I go anyways if they contact me. When I get there, I don’t feel as sick or as tired anymore. It puts how I’m feeling into perspective and I realize I could be feeling worse than I am.” – Susan Lee

If you or someone you know is interested in becoming an eleventh-hour volunteer, please contact Laura Ehmann at (602) 274-7572 or laura.ehmann@premierhospiceaz.com.