Doylestown Health Hospice volunteer Lee Abel describes his work with the program as a "win-win" situation.
"It fulfills me and provides a service to the patient's family or caregivers," says Lee, a retired insurance adjustor from Chalfont.
Lee's first experience working in a hospice situation was many years ago through his church when he answered the call for someone to visit with a hospice patient.
"I could see how much the family appreciated it," says Lee. "It was a comfortable fit."
Lee started volunteering for Doylestown Hospital Hospice in the 1990s, then took a break when his children became teens. He told himself when he retired he would go back to volunteering. He did just that in 2006.
Though each assignment varies, volunteers make visits to assist with patient care, help with household activities, or stay with a patient so family and caregivers may rest or run errands. Volunteers graduate from an intensive training program and receive ongoing training. Many are relatives and friends of former hospice patients who know how much hospice can help.
Hospice volunteers provide respite for families or caregivers during what can be a stressful or highly emotional time.
"You're there to comfort if not the patient, then the family," says Lee.
Volunteers give three to four hours a week or a couple times a month depending on their availability. Hospice volunteers may choose which assignment they'd like to take. "There are enough different assignments to satisfy us all," says Lee.
As a volunteer, Lee has bonded with caregivers or family members and patients. "They all enrich you in one way or another."
Working with terminally ill patients is "not at all depressing," notes Lee. "I do it because I can. I have a certain attitude towards death and life. You have to realize you may begin to have a relationship that is going to end."
This type of volunteer work has its rewards for Lee.
"The families are so grateful for what we do," he says. "It may be nothing more than a few hours of your time, but it makes you feel good to know you made their day better or a little easier for them."
Interested in Volunteering with Doylestown Hospital Hospice?
Doylestown Health Hospice is currently looking to add volunteers to its program. As the Hospice expands and grows there will be a need for more volunteers to visit patients in their home and provide respite to family and caregivers. Volunteers are asked to devote approximately 3 to 4 hours a week, choosing the schedule that works best for them. A full training will be provided. For more information please contact Karyn Arnold at 215-345-2202.
About Doylestown Health Hospice
When a patient's life expectancy is six months or less, comfort care options may be needed. Doylestown Health Hospice provides expert pain management, symptom-control techniques, caregiver relief, psychosocial and spiritual support, bereavement support, medical therapies and palliative care. Our compassionate approach to end-of-life care includes physician services, registered nurses, a chaplain, a social worker, home health aides, volunteers, and bereavement counselors who work together to help the entire family during these very difficult times.