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 firstname.lastname@example.org.