The primary function of Guthrie Hospice volunteers is to provide companionship for terminally ill patients and provide family members and/or caregivers a short break. Volunteers visit with patients, write letters for them, or just sit quietly with them so that they don't feel alone. Volunteers may also run errands, mow grass, shovel snow, grocery shop, cook, or do light housekeeping, depending upon their interests. They also provide “caregiver relief,” staying with patients while the primary caregivers take some time for themselves.
Because of the emotional nature of hospice care, it is recommended that those who have recently experienced the death of a loved one wait at least a year before applying to be a hospice volunteer. Applicants must be over age 18 and complete a 10-session training course, each three hours long, covering a variety of topics.
Couples often volunteer together and provide companionship to both the patient and their loved one. They can help facilitate communication within the family, allowing companions to discuss their fears or concerns. Guthrie Hospice volunteers also provide office support to help with filing, answering phones, organizing supplies, stuffing envelopes, and sending out Hospice mailings.