Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resources Learn More
Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resources Learn More

Keeping Hospice Volunteers Engaged and Active During Pandemics

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has long required hospice agencies to use volunteers to provide support for patients receiving hospice care and day-to-day administrative tasks that support the operation of the hospice organization. While CMS has suspended the requirement that hospices use volunteers during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is still possible to leverage your volunteers to provide additional support to your patients, their loved ones and your hospice team throughout this crisis.

Understandably, hospice volunteers may not feel comfortable making patient visits. In some cases, volunteers are no longer allowed to visit hospice patients in long-term care, assisted living or other residential care facilities. Coupled with the physical distancing required to flatten the infection curve, our very social volunteers are left with a lot of time on their hands. That is why this crisis presents an opportunity to change the volunteer’s focus to support their well-being and enrich the lives of hospice patients and their loved ones.

Tuck-In Calls: COVID-19 Version

Volunteers are often used to make tuck-in calls to patients or their caregivers to ensure that they have all the supplies and medication that they need. Volunteers also help ensure that patients are satisfied with the hospice services that they receive. The volunteer serves as the voice for the patient by passing along information obtained during the tuck-in call to a designated member of the hospice team. During this pandemic, many hospice patients may feel isolated. Whether they are sheltering in place at their home or in a residential care home, where visits are limited to necessary medical professionals, hospice patients are not enjoying the same interactions with loved ones, friends and even caregivers.

Additionally, loved ones, friends and caregivers may miss spending time with their friends or patients who are receiving hospice care. Volunteers are well-positioned to step in and fill the void by calling a patient’s loved ones who are separated by this pandemic. Video conferencing apps like FaceTime or Zoom can facilitate “in person” visits and provide delightful experiences for patients, family members and volunteers. These calls should be included in the Plan of Care and documented in the hospice software. It is important to get credit for the care and support that you are providing to patients and their loved ones.

Let Them Eat

Many seniors, including hospice patients, rely on organizations like Meals on Wheels to get a nutritious meal daily. Some hospice patients rely on their loved ones to ensure that they get meals prepared or delivered. Hospice volunteers, after receiving infection control training specific to coronavirus (COVID-19), can help deliver meals to hospice patients who are separated from their loved ones. Consider working with your local Meals on Wheels organization to assist with the meal preparation and packaging. Churches, restaurants and other community organizations are good resources when looking for meals to deliver to your patients. If you are considering providing the meals, make sure to contact your local food licensing department to understand any requirements that affect food preparation.

Notes and Cards

It is always a treat to receive a note or card. Volunteers can help hospice patients stay connected by sending them a card or note. These cards and notes can be delivered by hospice IDG members who still have access to the organization’s hospice patients. To preserve safe physical distancing, volunteers can drop notes off at the office using a drive-thru approach, or leave them outside of their home for a hospice team member to pick up and deliver.

It is important to continue to provide exceptional hospice care for patients and their loved ones during this crisis. It is also important to keep our volunteers engaged and doing what they love to do by sharing their time and talents with others.

Axxess is your partner in care in the home education and technology solutions. Find additional COVID-19 information on our resources page and our Help Center.


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