How to recruit and retain hospice volunteers

How to recruit and retain hospice volunteers

What is a hospice volunteer?

Hospice volunteers are key contributors to a hospice agency. The hospice movement was started with volunteers and there are now more than 460,000 volunteers nationwide.  To retain the initial spirit  of hospice, Medicare requires that volunteers must provide services that equal at least 5% of the total patient care hours of all paid hospice employees and contract staff.  Hospice volunteers are used to perform day-to-day administrative tasks for the hospice agency or in direct patient care roles. 

Where can you recruit to find volunteers?

How should a hospice screen potential volunteers?

There are a number of areas the hospice agency should consider when screening potential hospice volunteer’s:

  • What is motivating the potential volunteer?
  • What skills does the potential volunteer have? 
  • How much time does the potential volunteer have available?
  • Is the potential volunteer willing to complete any necessary training?
  • What is the potential volunteer’s degree of comfort with concepts surrounding death and dying including death, loss, grief, and bereavement. Does the potential volunteer have a healthy adjustment to significant loss?
  • Does the potential volunteer have a capacity for empathy and sensitivity? 

Considerations for retaining volunteers

If your agency has a wonderful team of volunteers, you want to be sure not to lose this group. How can you increase the chance of retention? Just like employees, retaining volunteers takes effort! Here are some tips for increasing the chance of retaining your volunteers:

  • Hospice volunteers need to believe in the hospice mission. 
  • They should see an opportunity for personal or professional growth
  • Volunteers should feel needed and feel that they are contributing – the the agency or to the patients that they care for
  • Volunteers should feel supported by the hospice agency staff
  • Volunteers should be able to share the emotional events that they may experience while they volunteer