(Image: Thinkstock)

(Image: Thinkstock)

Greater Trail hospice seeks volunteers

Training starts next month in Kiro Wellness Centre

Do you have an hour or so to spare each week to do something meaningful?

If so, the Greater Trail Hospice Society is inviting locals with a heart for volunteering to take some training, beginning next month, and help comfort those in time of need.

Training sessions for volunteers are being held over four days in the Kiro Wellness Centre beginning Sept. 20 and Sept. 21, then again on Oct. 4 and Oct. 5.

Friday meetings are half days, 5-8:30 p.m. and the two Saturdays are full days, 9 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. All four sessions are required to complete the training.

“You’ll learn about communication and the physical experiences of people as well as the emotional things they experience,” Tina Ihas, the society’s coordinator, explained.

“You’ll get some tools to deal with that, and how to work effectively with the clients,” she said.

“Everyone gets the same training, and we have a pretty good success rate. The vast majority of our volunteers that go through the training stick with volunteering with hospice in some aspect.”

The society currently has 30-plus volunteers, but more are needed, and not just for home visits.

“That may sound like a lot,” said Ihas. “But we have some who volunteer a lot, some who volunteer a little, and some who only come into the office, so it’s a wide variety of skills and mind sets we are looking for.”

She reminds those interested that there is no time commitment to volunteer with the organization, which from Rossland to Ross Spur, supports quality of living while in the process of dying and healthy transition through grief for the bereaved.

“If you want to do it once a month, once every few months, or every time we have a client, we don’t require a specific time commitment like some hospices do.”

For those who do chose to give their time, the benefit can be very rewarding.

“It’s such an honour to be with someone at such an intimate time in their life,” she shared.

“That’s what all our volunteers say, the ones that do chose (to sit with a hospice client) get a lot of peace from it.”

Hospice training is sponsored by Columbia Basin Trust, however there is a nominal fee attached to the sessions.

“We charge $30, which is basically a commitment fee,” Ihas said. “But for that, they get amazing training from highly respected professionals … the course materials, and lunch, dinner and snacks.”

For more information and to sign up for the training sessions, call 250.364.6204 or email info@trailhospice.org.

Hospice refers to both a philosophy of care, and a place of care. The movement to provide better and more modern palliative and end-of-life care was initiated in England in the 1950’s by Dame Cicely Saunders.

Her foundational principles included focusing on the person rather than the disease, providing good pain control, including the psychological and spiritual aspects of care, and allowing the patient the choice of whether they wanted to die at home or in a facility.

In recent years, some communities have established designated hospice facilities that provide care exclusively for people who have life-limiting illnesses. These facilities may be a specialized unit within a hospital complex or may be a free-standing building with staff dedicated to palliative care.

Staff that work in these units are highly trained in symptom control, psychosocial issues, family support and communication, and have a heart for journeying with those who are dying.