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Hospice seeks volunteers

By Leanne Fuller lfuller@paducahsun.com

Lourdes Hospice is seeking volunteers who will make a big difference in the lives of hospice patients and their caregivers.

Lourdes Hospice Volunteer Coordinator Susan Mason said direct volunteers spend time with patients in their homes or in nursing homes, visiting with them and providing compassion, a listening ear and emotional support.

"Everyone loves to feel loved and just to have a presence with them," Mason said. "A lot of times the volunteer can reminisce with them, just letting them feel like they're not alone."

Another valuable service Mason said direct volunteers provide is a respite for caregivers to run errands.

"And a lot of people don't realize ... just giving the caregiver some time away or a respite: It can refresh that caregiver, where they feel like they can jump in there and do what they need to do."

Paducah resident Sandy Sloan works out of a home office taking care of rental properties while caring for her husband Monroe, who she said is bedridden because of lung cancer. She receives help from Lourdes Hospice volunteers who spend time with her husband three times a week, and she said their support makes a huge difference for her.

Sloan said volunteers stay with her husband while she buys groceries, goes to the doctor or runs other errands, and she appreciates that they are there to spend time with him and to make sure he isn't alone if something happens while she's out.

"If the house caught on fire, he couldn't get out of bed," Sloan said as an example. "They could call for help for him if they couldn't get him out themselves."

Sloan said the help of volunteers is important for folks like herself, who have to juggle work and errands with taking care of their loved ones. And volunteers ease a financial burden, she said, because if someone had to hire a professional caregiver to do the same thing, "it would cost you a fortune."

"There's no way I'd make it without them ... And they're such good volunteers they send," Sloan said of the Lourdes volunteers. "They're so sweet. They just seem like family to me now," Sloan added. "I don't know what I'd do without them."

Mason said no medical training is needed to become a direct volunteer, but volunteers are required to receive about 12 hours of training where they learn about the philosophy of hospice and how hospice workers, family members and volunteers work together as a team.

Lourdes Hospice needs volunteers in all the counties the program serves - listed online at http://elourdes.com/hospice-counties-served.asp. Mason said there is no requirement for how much time a person volunteers or how often, and that "We appreciate any time they can give."

Mason said in addition to direct volunteers, Lourdes Hospice uses "tuck in" volunteers who call patients toward the end of the week to check on whether they have everything they'll need over the weekend. Lourdes Hospice also has openings for indirect volunteers to lend a hand at the Lourdes Hospice office who do not have to go through the 12-hour training program direct volunteers participate in.

"They could greet families at the door, assist with mailings, and maybe make phone calls to patients, just to check on them," Mason said.

Mason said volunteers themselves benefit from helping with hospice.

"I hear from so many of my current volunteers what a blessing volunteering for hospice has been for them." Mason said.

Those interested in volunteering with Lourdes Hospice can call Mason at 270-415-3640.

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