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How to Become a Hospice Volunteer

Are you interested in helping others?

Would you like to do something meaningful?

Then you may want to become a hospice volunteer.

Samaritan, a not-for-profit hospice organization, offers a range of volunteer opportunities – from providing companionship to patients, to assisting with office work, to helping with fundraisers. Samaritan has more than 400 volunteers who lend support in dozens of different ways in patients’ homes, at Samaritan facilities, and in the community.

The Process to Become a Hospice Volunteer

At Samaritan, you will need to follow several steps to become a hospice volunteer. Parts of the process vary with the type of volunteer position you seek.

These requirements are designed to ensure a positive experience for everyone: volunteers, patients and families, Samaritan’s staff and other supporters.

If you’ve recently had a significant loss, Samaritan requires that you wait a year before you start volunteering.

Here’s a quick rundown of the Samaritan process to become a hospice volunteer:

  1. If you’re thinking about volunteering, the first step is to attend a Samaritan Volunteer Orientation. This informative one-hour presentation gives an overview of Samaritan and its volunteer opportunities. The session will help you decide which options may be right for you, based on your interests and preferences. You will also learn Samaritan’s volunteer training requirements and how to start the volunteer application process. Orientations are held monthly at Samaritan’s offices in Marlton, N.J.

For dates and times, please contact Sharon Wenner at (856) 552-3238.

  1. The next step is to complete and return the volunteer application, which you will receive during orientation. Once Samaritan receives your completed application, a Samaritan representative will email you regarding next steps, based on your volunteer interests.
  2. Background check and references. These are required for some, but not all, volunteer positions. See “Volunteer Opportunities & Requirements” below for more details.
  3. Register for appropriate training. Depending on the volunteer position, you will need to register for any required training by Samaritan.
  4. Complete training and any required medical clearance. Certain volunteer positions require medical clearance, in addition to training.
  5. Notification of completed requirements and any next steps. Samaritan will let you know once your volunteer requirements are completed, and alert you to any additional steps needed to become a volunteer.
  6. Volunteer scheduled/assigned. Samaritan will notify you of your first volunteer assignment(s) and/or schedule.

[ Read about the benefits of volunteering ]

Opportunities & Requirements to Become a Hospice Volunteer

Here’s a look at Samaritan’s many volunteer positions.

|| Samaritan does not require training, references, or background checks to become a hospice volunteer in the following positions. ||

Committee Member

Samaritan operates several volunteer committees:

  • Two annual fund-raising events: the Samaritan Golf Outing and the Samaritan Gala. Volunteer committees plan and host these dynamic events.
  • Two faith-based hospice programs: Via Lucis – Catholic Hospice Outreach, and Sukkat Shalom – Jewish Hospice Outreach. These committees engage and educate their respective faith communities about hospice and end-of-life planning.
  • African Global Partnership, which works with Samaritan’s sister hospice, Kawempe Home Care in Uganda. This committee helps patients and families living with serious illness in an area that includes four large, urban slums of about 350,000 people and a poor rural community of approximately 150,000 people.

SamariTeens

This program is for high school students, ages 14 to 18, who want to support Samaritan’s patients and families on an ongoing basis. SamariTeens lend a helping hand through visits, projects and participation in annual events. Prospective SamariTeens must submit a Youth Application.

For teens needing service hours, we do have independent projects such as collection drives, crafts and fundraisers.

 

|| Samaritan requires references and background checks to become a hospice volunteer in the following positions. ||

Thrift Store Staff
Samaritan operates thrift shops in Pitman and Westmont, whose proceeds help fund Samaritan’s services. Volunteers staff the stores, display merchandise, sort donations, and maintain a clean, attractive environment. Retail experience is a plus.

The store manager calls the volunteer to schedule on-the-job training.

 

Bereavement Phone Caller

These volunteers call people who have recently experienced a loss, and remind them that Samaritan is still there to help if they need us. Callers work from home, and the position requires 2 – 4 hours a month.

Samaritan provides a 2½-hour training session that includes understanding grief and loss, coping, and “red flags” (signs the bereaved person needs professional help, and how to address that need).

[ Read more about why to become a hospice volunteer ]

|| Samaritan requires medical clearance, in addition to references and background checks, to become a hospice volunteer in the following positions. ||

Medical Requirements

  • Health Screening (by your doctor). You do not need a physical – just a note of “OK to volunteer.” Your primary doctor can complete the form we give you or write on a prescription sheet.
  • Proof of Influenza Vaccine or Medical/Spiritual Declination Form – Required prior to volunteering if hired during Flu season – generally October to March.

Virtua Occupational Health, a part of Virtua Health, will perform the following four (4) requirements at no cost to you!

  • Evidence of Tuberculosis Screening (PPD 2-Step Procedure).
  •  Rubella titer (German Measles)
  •  Rubeola screening/titer (Measles) (ONLY NEEDED if born in or after 1957)
  •  Varicella titer (Chicken Pox)

Patient/Family Support Volunteer

The volunteer provides companionship to the patient and family, and/or caregiver relief, 2 – 4 hours weekly in patients’ homes, assisted living centers, nursing homes, or a Samaritan inpatient hospice center in Voorhees or Mount Holly.

Patient/Family Support volunteers serve as caring friends for chatting or sharing activities — such as watching TV together, playing games, listening to music, or reading.
Training consists of five 3-hour sessions at a Samaritan facility. It includes an overview of Samaritan and its services, volunteer duties and responsibilities, infection control, communication, dynamics of death and dying, and bereavement.

 

Vet-Visiting-Vet Volunteer

Veterans often appreciate contact with another vet or active-duty service member – someone who can personally relate to their life in the military. These volunteers share service stories and experiences. They help secure lost medals, and assist with recognition ceremonies. They may record the veteran’s stories to preserve in the Library of Congress or for the family’s legacy.

Samaritan provides patient/family support training so volunteers feel comfortable and prepared to assist their fellow vets.

 

Vigil Volunteer

Vigil volunteers must first serve as Patient/Family Support volunteers for at least 6 months, and complete advanced training. These volunteers provide a supportive presence during a patient’s final hours. They offer a beautiful, final gift of peace and solace to patients and families.

Pet Therapy Volunteer

These volunteers bring their certified therapy dog to visit patients each week in their assisted living facility, nursing home, or a Samaritan inpatient center in Mount Holly or Voorhees. Your dog must be certified by a therapy organization such as Bright and Beautiful or Alliance of Therapy Dogs and you must provide your pet’s shot history and yearly veterinarian exam paperwork. Pet therapy volunteers must attend the Patient/Family Support volunteer training (described above).

Transitions Caller

Samaritan’s Transitions program helps people with a progressive illness who are not ready for hospice care. Transitions callers make phone calls to these patients and families every two weeks, for 2 – 4 hours, from Samaritan’s Marlton office.

These volunteers must complete the first two weeks of Patient/Family Support training (described above).

Greeter or Administrative Volunteer

Volunteer greeters welcome families and visitors to the Samaritan Center at Voorhees, our freestanding inpatient hospice. They also escort people as needed, answer phones and direct calls. Scheduling is flexible, and shifts are available 7 days a week.

Administrative volunteers provide clerical assistance in Samaritan’s Marlton headquarters, including typing, filing, scanning, data entry that support patient and family services. These volunteers support a specific department, such as Medical Records, Marketing, Human Resources and the like, for 2 – 4 hours a week. Available hours are between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Samaritan trains Greeters and Administrative Volunteers together in a 3-hour session. Training includes an overview of Samaritan, infection control, safety, procedures, and a tour of the Samaritan Center at Voorhees.

Music Performer

You can share the gift of music in Samaritan patients’ assisted living facilities or nursing homes, through performance and musical interaction. Volunteer performers represent Samaritan at care facilities.

Training consists of a 2½-hour session, which includes an overview, volunteer duties and responsibilities, infection control, and safety.

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If you have questions about how to become a hospice volunteer, please call Sharon Wenner at (856) 552-3238 or email swenner@SamaritanNJ.org.