It seems that a number of hospices currently require considerable time commitments for volunteers to get involved. I’m curious what would happen if hospice doors felt more open and inviting to the public, if we each had the opportunity to get involved at a younger age, if hospices weren’t an invite-only possibly-scary place to visit but rather a place we’ve become familiar with throughout our lives.
When reading through the ideas of various nurses and palliative caregivers, the present moment emerged as a theme. What can we offer to continuously invite patients into the present moment? To connect with the senses, with people, with the world? I imagine there is not one single access point to the present moment that everyone would enjoy equally. To me it’s yoga and breath, to others it’s the sound of the ocean in a seashell, or the feeling of a snowball melting in your hands.
These thoughts led me to wonder what if hospices were opened up to short term volunteering opportunities via partnerships with local schools, companies, groups, and individuals? Where once a year visits include: a young classroom singing choir songs, a college acting troupe doing a dramatic poetry reading, a furniture design student collaborating with a patient to build a bench for the hospice. I believe in the creativity of groups and individuals and hope by inviting more people into hospice walls we can help shift our own understanding and perception of end of life experiences, provide our unique services to the unique individuals in hospice care, and encourage patients and volunteers alike to embrace the present.