November is National Home Care and Hospice Month, and a good time to recognize the great work that UnityPoint Hospice does in our communities. One of the unique aspects of hospice care is that it utilizes the help of volunteers to provide comfort and compassion to patients and their families.
Recently, four UnityPoint Hospice volunteers were honored at the Hospice and Palliative Care Association of Iowa’s annual Volunteer Recognition Event. The honorees are nominated by their hospices for their service and commitment. They are:
- Jerry Beck, UnityPoint Hospice, Fort Dodge
- Terry Hertges, UnityPoint Hospice, Waterloo
- Kay Jipp, UnityPoint Hospice, Storm Lake
- Pat Morton, UnityPoint Hospice, Des Moines
Pat Shares Her Story About Becoming a Hospice Volunteer:
Pat began volunteering in 2014 with UnityPoint Hospice and is involved in many areas – Taylor House, bereavement services, NODA (No One Dies Alone) and We Honor Veterans.
What drew you to volunteering?
In 2003 I lost a sister, two good friends, my father-in-law and my husband. I always felt that I had a good support system to help me through that time, but I knew that when I was ready, I wanted to give back. It took 11 years, but I hope I’m doing it now.
What do you witness as a volunteer?
How everyone is different as they go through the process of dying, so you kind of learn to feel what they each need. Sometimes it’s reading to patients, or just sitting beside them and patting their hand. And sometimes a hug is worth a thousand words.
Tell me about a meaningful moment you had as a volunteer.
I visited with a World War II patient, who was in the same parts of the South Pacific that my father served in. We were able to share a connection that way. As a military veteran, and the widow of one, I know that I can relate to them and their experiences. I always ask if they would like to talk to me about where they served and if they want to share their story.
What would you say to someone considering becoming a hospice volunteer?
Explore your own feelings, especially if you have experience with someone dying or dealing with a terminal condition. Know what you are able to give, and know that you are giving comfort to the patient and family.
Watch the new UnityPoint Hospice video about hospice volunteering and learn more about how you can become a volunteer.