Visiting Nurse Association of Ohio wants to change the way patients and their families think about...
Volunteer Coordination: Hospice and the Gift of Community
Sarah Kok oversees all volunteer activities and is the full time spiritual care coordinator with VNA of Ohio Hospice.
An ordained minister with healthcare specific chaplain training, she has spent many years working in local clinics and churches. VNA of Ohio is proud to have her leading the charge with our amazing volunteer network.
1. What services do you provide for the VNA of Ohio?
During the ongoing pandemic recovery mode, I have taken on the volunteer coordinator position.
At this time, we are not able to go into patients’ homes, but we are getting ready for our big return! It has been important to remain in contact with our hands on volunteers so they will remain with us when we resume patient home visits. In non-pandemic times, we offer many options for volunteers to help the community but until we can get into patient homes, I've had to spend the majority of my time communicating with our volunteers and reaching out to our community partners.
2. What are VNA of Ohio volunteers able to provide at this time?
We are lucky to have a few volunteer groups that create amazing tangible items for our patients. The Chicks with Sticks knitting group makes beautiful blankets. This talented group of knitters meets at local community centers to complete their work. Our volunteer seamstress Leanor creates beautiful, homemade hospital gowns and bibs for our patients. All of these items are personalized for patients and provide a great deal of comfort for them while they rest at home. We also partner with a creative group that makes handmade cards with pressed flower designs. They sell these and donate the proceeds to our Hospice care program.
3. How do patients connect with your volunteer services?
My position as chaplain and volunteer coordinator are part of the VNA of Ohio Hospice program. Every Hospice patient is visited by me or my associate during their intake. We provide emotional and spiritual support, which is typically listening and offering connection to patients and their families as they move through a difficult time. Once patients are in our system, we work with our home healthcare nurses and social workers to provide volunteer support services to those that will benefit.
4. What are the complicated aspects of your role within the organization?
The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly created many complications! We know that so many of our patients would really benefit from having a volunteer visit their homes. However, we haven’t been able to send anyone into a home since March of 2020 due to the restrictions.
Instead, we have been sending premade items into homes and making phone calls to check in on patients and our partner groups. Luckily, we have been able to sell the handmade cards at our golf outing and coordinate volunteers to help with our annual “Light a Life” Hospice memorial service.
5. What are the positive lessons you have learned from your work within the organization?
In my time coordinating volunteers, I have learned that the work fits in nicely with the hospice philosophy. We give to patients by caring for them in their homes. Volunteering opens up the opportunity to give by caring for these individuals to the entire community. If they can knit, if they can sit, if they can read, if they can play music, they can offer these services and integrate themselves into their community–and do so for folks at end of their lives. Hospice patients and their families often need comfort the most at this particular time, and what we offer as volunteers is an amazing gift of comfort. It’s the perfect fit!
VNA of Ohio is always seeking volunteers to help with our mission based services.
Would you like to join our ranks?
Contact us today and we will be happy to discuss opportunities to serve.