More than 130 carefully trained men and women serve Blue Hill and the peninsula, Ellsworth / Downeast, Bucksport and Mount Desert Island as community hospice volunteers. Volunteers primarily offer emotional support, companionship and respite care so family members can rest. Volunteers may also provide light meals, transportation and errands when needed. Volunteers receive 30 hours of training, and are required to augment that training each year.
A number of hospice volunteers have completed an advanced AIDS caregiving training program. Bereavement facilitators receive an additional 12 to 24 hours of bereavement training. Office volunteers are needed for mailings, to answer telephones, and for other general office duties.
Skilled care providers, staff members, bereavement facilitators, and active volunteers present the hospice training. Classes include a thorough grounding in hospice philosophy, recognition of individual feelings and history of facing loss, communication and listening skills, the physical, emotional and spiritual manifestation of the process and bereavement, practical bedside comfort training, standard precautions, therapeutic touch and an orientation to community services and team care. The following is an outline of additional topics covered during the 8-week training course:
- Hospice Philosophy and Care
- Spiritual and Cultural Perspectives of Death and Dying
- The Caregivers Journey with the Dying Person
- Understanding the Dying Process
- Interaction with the Hospice Team, Individuals and Families
- Hospice Caregiving; Illness and Ethics
- Caregiving Considerations for Volunteers
- End of Life Business: Funeral Support Systems