Volunteers Reach Out In Comfort And Care For Hospice

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It is not a topic that anyone likes to dwell on.

But chances are, there will come a time in your family, or perhaps in your own life, when you are going to find yourself relying on RTA Hospice and Palliative Care and thanking its volunteer staff for the compassionate patient care and family support they offer when cures are no longer a possibility.

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Pia Wyer (left), volunteer coordinator for RTA Hospice and Palliative Care, offers a show of appreciation to "star volunteer" Louise Coulter. "Volunteers are an essential part of the interdisciplinary team and complement all aspects of hospice care," Wyer said.

Before that time comes, consider becoming one of those who is thanked.

Become an RTA Hospice volunteer.

"Hospice is unique because it provides to the patient and their families a broad range of services including physician consultation, nursing visits, personal care, social services, chaplain support and volunteers," said Pia Wyer, RTA's volunteer coordinator.

"Volunteers are an essential part of the interdisciplinary team and complement all aspects of hospice care ... Being a volunteer is just a wonderful way to serve the community at a time when people really need help the most."

At the moment, RTA has 26 active volunteers, but "Ultimately, we'd like to get 50," Wyer said. "Not all of our patients require volunteer services, but some do require more help than others."

RTA is especially hoping to recruit volunteers who reside in Gisela, Tonto Basin, Christopher Creek and Pine-Strawberry, "because a lot of our volunteers aren't able to drive that far especially with winter approaching," Wyer said.

The timing is perfect for those interested in becoming a hospice volunteer, as RTA is about to hold a 30-hour free volunteer education course in Payson over three upcoming weekends: Nov. 15-17 and 22-24, and Dec. 6-8.

The training will last from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday nights, and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays except Saturday, Nov. 23, when it will be 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., and Sunday, Dec. 8, when it will run from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. to accommodate a course-completion ceremony.

"During this training, participants will gain a clear understanding of the hospice philosophy and their role as volunteers," Wyer said. "But they will also have the deeply meaningful opportunity to explore their own mortality, what that means to them, and they may face it in their own lives."

Course topics will include Introduction to Hospice; Concepts of death and Dying; Communication Skills; Care and Comfort, Pain management, Disease processes; Funeral Home Visit; Psychosocial Aspects and Spiritual Dynamics; The Hospice Family; Managing Personal Stress; Understanding the Bereavement Process; and Opportunities for Hospice Volunteers.

"We'll also have something, of course, on stress, because in many ways hospice can be a stressful environment," Wyer said. "But it's also a very enriching one, knowing that we are of service to people at a time when they really need it."

Hospice volunteers can serve in a variety of ways: by offering companionship, providing transportation, running errands, cooking meals. Those who wish to volunteer but do not want direct patient or family contact can help in administrative and office duties, Wyer added.

RTA is also seeking assistance from professional volunteers such as registered nurses, CNAs, lawyers, accountants, Realtors, veterinarians, hair stylists and others for "patients who are unable to leave their home or care center environment," Wyer said.

To participate, volunteers must be over the age of 18 and not have experienced the death of someone close within the past 12 months. Beyond those stipulations, Wyer said, "The only requirement to participate in the RTA Hospice volunteer education course is a willingness to learn and a desire to serve our community in this unique and invaluable capacity.

"It is a privilege to work with these generous volunteers who offer their time and life experience to help patients and families at a sensitive and challenging time in their lives," Wyer said.

For more information, or to register for the course, call Pia Wyer at 472-6340.

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