A Team of Volunteers has been Specially Trained to Assist Families during Final Hours

 

SCOTCH PLAINS, N.J., August 27, 2019 – The final hours of a person’s life can feel lonely or filled with fear when one has no family or friends nearby. And loved ones may feel confused or frightened about what’s happening in the patient’s final hours. A new support team has been introduced by Stacy Kaplan, the volunteer coordinator of Center for Hope Hospice & Palliative Care to address this with an enhancement to the Center’s volunteer program—training interested adults to become end-of-life aides for the terminally ill under the Center’s care. Called 11th Hour volunteers, the specially trained team offers transitional support to patients and their loved ones during those final hours.

 

“This new program helps the Center provide vital support and comfort to our patients who may be alone. Just as important, the program can assist their families as well,” explained Kaplan. “If their services are requested, our 11th Hour volunteers are trained to notice and explain certain, predictable physical changes their loved one may be experiencing. They’re available to relieve families at the bedside if needed, or they can simply sit and be a comforting presence—whatever the family needs at that very emotional time. We also recognize that there are patients who, sadly, may not have family or friends nearby to be with them; our team fills that void and provides companionship during their final hours.”

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The volunteers provide these support services at the Center’s two residences in Scotch Plains and Elizabeth, as well as in the wider community.

 

Kaplan held an informational meeting in January for volunteers to learn more about the 11th Hour program; 16 committed to the training, which took place through the winter months. They learned about the physical phases of a person’s transition, various religious and cultural aspects of death and dying, what to expect from family members as they face their loved one’s passing, and how to offer quiet comfort and reassurance immediately before and after the patient has passed. The training also covered the importance of supporting one another as they do this hospice work. The program launched in April.

 

“Being an end-of-life volunteer is very different from the other volunteer support roles we provide at the Center for Hope,” said Frank Brady, president of the non-profit organization. “The focus of our 11th Hour support team is to be the comforting presence that’s so needed in those final moments, for patients and their loved ones. Since this important program began, our 11th Hour volunteers have spent many, many hours sitting vigil for our actively dying patients, rushing over to spend several hours, during the day or night, to make sure the patient and their loved ones were comfortable and cared for emotionally.” Brady added that some of the 11th hour volunteers have formed strong bonds with the family members and have attended wakes and funerals for some of the patients.

 

In addition to its two residences, the Center for Hope provides hospice care for terminally ill patients where they reside in Union County and surrounding areas. For more information or to find out about volunteer opportunities for individuals and organizations, visit www.cfhh.org or call (908) 889-7780.

 

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About Center for Hope Hospice & Palliative Care, Inc.

Center for Hope Hospice & Palliative Care (Center for Hope) is a non-profit, community based organization that provides terminally ill patients with hospice care, and their families or loved ones with physical, emotional, and spiritual support during their time of need. The Center actively supports the individual's right to live out the remainder of their life with dignity and in comfort, surrounded by the love of family and friends, and eased from the burdens of physical, emotional, spiritual, financial or social distress.​ Center for Hope welcomes all terminally ill patients, their families and loved ones without concern for race, ethnicity, religious affiliation or ability to pay. It also offers pain and symptom management for chronically ill and seriously ill patients through its palliative care program. Center for Hope operates two facilities in Scotch Plains and Elizabeth; the latter provides nearly $3.5 million a year in charity care. For more information, visit www.cfhh.org.