Thought Leaders: Volunteers — The Heart Of Hospice

By Nate Lamkin - Pathways — 

Perhaps one of your New Year’s resolutions was to get more involved with your local community by volunteering with a nonprofit organization. Allow me to tell you about Pathways’ amazing Hospice Volunteers, share the richness and meaning of what they do, and invite you to consider becoming one!

Pathways was established in 1978 as Hospice of Larimer County, and like many of our nation’s oldest Hospice programs we began as an all-volunteer organization. It was not until Congress established the Medicare Hospice Benefit in 1982 that Hospices began the shift to hiring interdisciplinary teams to care for patients, but even then Hospice Volunteers continued to be an integral part of the service delivery model. To this day the Medicare Conditions of Participation for Hospice require that volunteers provide a minimum of 5% of the total patient care hours of all paid Hospice employees and contract staff.

Hospice Volunteers support patients and families in a variety of ways:

• Visits for companionship in patients’ homes, long term care facilities, and the Pathways Hospice Care Center

• Caregiver relief

• Assistance with shopping or light household chores

• Pet Therapy visits (for Volunteers with certified therapy animals)

Volunteers also support Pathways by:

• Staffing our Greeter Desk

• Event support and outreach

• Bereavement phone calls

• Office support for various departments

Requirements to become a Hospice Volunteer are sufficient to support you but not overly demanding:

• Must be age 18 or over

• Annual flu shot requirement

• Must attend a two-day training

• Must complete 10 hours of continuing education per year

My own journey with Hospice began 25 years ago when I attend Volunteer Training with what was then Hospice Care of DC in our nation’s capital. I was deeply moved and inspired by what their Volunteer Coordinator said to our group on the first day of class, and I have incorporated it into my remarks at Pathways’ Volunteer Training:

“Imagine yourselves on a ship at sea 1,000 miles from the nearest port. If you alter your course by even half a degree and maintain that new heading, where you make landfall will be dramatically different as a result. Each of you by making the choice to become a Hospice Volunteer have altered the course of your life by a small amount, and who knows what amazing journeys will follow. My wish is that your own journey with Hospice is as profoundly meaningful and transformative for you as mine has been for me!”

For more information on becoming a Pathways Volunteer please contact:

• Deb Hayman, 970-292-2378,