“I’m not afraid of dying, it’s getting there that worries me.”
One of the biggest fears people have is that they will die alone. While Hospice of the Red River Valley cannot guarantee patients will not die alone, we have developed a volunteer program to address this need.
The Pathway Volunteer Program was created to offer additional emotional support to patients and families during the active dying process. Pathway volunteers are available on an on-call basis to sit at the bedside of nursing home and hospital patients who are within two to three days of dying. They can hold a hand, read, play music, give a hand massage or just “be there” when no one else can. They do not take the place of continuous care, as volunteers can not feed patients, administer medications or provide personal cares.
Pathway volunteers receive additional training on providing care at the end of life and recognizing the changes that occur in a patient’s body as a disease progresses. They are comfortable being at the bedside of patients who are within days of dying.
The Pathway program has received many positive responses from families who have used the program, stating what a comfort it was to have the extra support. The following are some specific scenarios in which a Pathway volunteer can be arranged.
- A family is tired and needs to get some sleep but does not want the patient to be alone.
- A family member is trying to get home before the death of a loved one and would like someone to be at the bedside until they get here.
- A patient has no family and patient is fearful of dying alone.
- A family member would be more comfortable having someone with them at the patient bedside.
Pathway volunteers feel that it is a privilege to participate at the end of a patient’s life. One volunteer shared that the patient gripped her hand until the death. Another described how the patient became more relaxed when given a hand massage or when soothing music was being played.
The Pathway Volunteer Program provides additional support to patients, families, facilities staff and Hospice of the Red River Valley staff alike.
About Hospice of the Red River Valley
Hospice of the Red River Valley is an independent, nonprofit hospice serving more than 30 counties in North Dakota and Minnesota. Hospice care is intensive comfort care that alleviates pain and suffering, enhancing the quality of life for patients with life-limiting illnesses and their loved ones by addressing their medical, emotional, spiritual and grief needs. For more information, call toll free 800-237-4629, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.hrrv.org.