ThedaCare At Home Hospice Provides End of Life Care
Mercedes Willarson of Waupaca has been a ThedaCare At Home Hospice volunteer for 15 years and continues to find the role rewarding ”especially with a lot of families who need someone at a difficult time when a relative is very ill,” she said.
Willarson is a retired nurse and serves as a Peaceful Presence coordinator. She contacts volunteers to serve one of three shifts at a nursing home to be with someone who is dying and has no family to be with them. Volunteers are there to be with the person, to talk to them, she said. “Sometimes the person isn’t responsive, they can hold their hand, they can talk and in some way let them know they are not alone,” she added.
ThedaCare At Home Hospice is in need of more volunteers to provide end of life care for individuals where ever they call home. “We could not provide hospice care without the volunteers,” said Sarah Lederer, bereavement/ volunteer coordinator. “They are able to form a relationship with patients through their companionship that other members of the team cannot. They come with no agenda or medical equipment; just a smile, a listening ear, and a caring heart.”
Hospice volunteers in Waupaca, New London and the surrounding communities are an integral part of the ThedaCare At Home hospice team, said Lederer. “They help to assist in caring for terminally ill patients and their families in homes, at nursing facilities and at the Wisconsin Veteran’s Home in King,” she said. “Volunteers help to meet the emotional, spiritual and family needs of those on hospice. They do this by providing companionship, life review, and respite for both patients and their families.”
In the Waupaca, New London and Iola areas, there are 52 volunteers in the ThedaCare At Home Hospice team. “These 52 wonderful individuals are some of the most caring and giving people I have ever met,” said Lederer. “They give their time and hearts free of charge to our hospice patients adding quality to the patients’ lives. Hospice volunteers provide a variety of care.”
Duties include companionship, life review, respite for the caregiver, light housekeeping, running errands, providing laughter, assisting with something off the patient’s “bucket list”, helping patients with their favorite hobbies, and filming of “Every Life Has a Story,” said Lederer. When family members are not able to be with their loved ones when they are in their very last days of life, volunteers from the Peaceful Presence program are called on. “Their goal is to cover as much time as they can with the dying patient so the patient doesn’t die while alone,” she said.
The ThedaCare Family of Foundations provides funding to the volunteer program for education and training, as well as for pet therapy, and the Hospice Hopes and Dreams Program. “Volunteers often assist with The Hopes and Dreams Program,” said Lederer. “It is offered to patients and their families to fulfill one last wish at the end of life; be it a birthday celebration, an anniversary, or a day trip to visit a special place.” To become a ThedaCare Volunteer, an individual needs to pass a background check, have updated vaccinations, and complete a free 12 hour training, which will be held in September. “During this 12 hour training they learn about hospice philosophy, end of life symptoms, ways of communicating with families and patients, and safety,” said Lederer. “Volunteers also meet other members of the interdisciplinary hospice team. Interested volunteers should be compassionate, and have the ability to communicate well with others.”
For more information about becoming a ThedaCare At Home Hospice volunteer, contact Volunteer Coordinator Sarah Lederer at (920) 716.2783, or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To help support continued financial needs: make a gift online at thedacare.org/donate or send contributions to ThedaCare Family of Foundations, 1818 N. Meade Street, Appleton, WI 54911, and indicate ThedaCare At Home Hospice and the location to restrict funding to in the memo line.
For more than 100 years, ThedaCare™ has been committed to finding a better way to deliver serious and complex healthcare to patients throughout Northeast Wisconsin. The organization serves over 200,000 patients annually and employs more than 7,000 healthcare professionals throughout the region. ThedaCare has seven hospitals located in Appleton, Neenah, Berlin, Waupaca, Shawano, New London and Wild Rose as well as 34 clinics in nine counties. ThedaCare is the first in Wisconsin to be a Mayo Clinic Care Network Member, giving our specialists the ability to consult with Mayo Clinic experts on a patient’s care. ThedaCare is a non-profit healthcare organization with a level II trauma center, comprehensive cancer treatment, stroke and cardiac programs as well as a foundation dedicated to community service. ThedaCare Regional Cancer Center in Appleton opened in February. For more information, visit www.thedacare.org or follow ThedaCare on Facebook and Twitter.