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Answering the Call for Hospice Care

Hospice support

Sandy Powers has been touched by Providence Hospice many times in her life. Her grandmother was supported by Providence Hospice in Shelton at the end of her life, as was her mother in Seattle. In 2004, Sandy Powers began volunteering with Providence Hospice. Powers says, “I truly feel it is a calling to work with those at end of life.”

Powers now works for Providence Hospice serving as the volunteer manager, overseeing the 800-1,000 hospice volunteers in the Olympia-Seattle-Everett area. Over 200 are local to the Thurston, Mason, Lewis county area, served by Providence SoundHomeCare & Hospice staff.

Powers says, “The training SoundHomeCare & Hospice provides to hospice volunteers is much more than the basic Medicare requirements.” In fact, the volunteers receive between 32 to 40 hours of training. Aspects of the training include self-awareness, self-knowledge, and self-care. Powers says, “Volunteers, or anyone who is with someone at the end of life, needs to understand what being a peaceful presence is all about. To be a peaceful presence is to sit in the uncomfortable with another person, without fixing or curing. To hold that kind of space requires a lot of inner work.”

Volunteers play many roles, including giving respite – a small break – three to four hours a week to caregivers from caring for family members. Volunteers may read books, converse, or just sit quietly with patients. According to Powers, the respite program is absolutely essential, “When we’re exhausted, we aren’t at our best. When we can give those family members a rest, it helps them and their loved one.”

Volunteers also provide vigils for hospice patients – known in Thurston County as the “11th Hour” program. Volunteers hold vigil with patients during the last 24 to 48 hours of life. In addition, some volunteers help those on hospice with basic chores such as grocery shopping, gardening, or reading to patients.

Looking to the future, SoundHomeCare & Hospice is building a veterans program. Powers emphasizes, “We want to be there for our veterans. They have given everything for us. We realize veterans have unique needs at the end of life, which is why Providence SoundHomeCare & Hospice has joined the national program We Honor Vets. We want to be there for our community - it’s being there for each other - especially at this sacred time of life, that’s what hospice is all about.”

The 11th Hour, respite and comfort care programs at Providence SoundHomeCare & Hospice are all supported by generous donations to Providence St. Peter Foundation. After traveling this challenging journey with our caring staff and volunteers, many people ask what they can do to help. Frequently, families and friends choose to give memorial gifts to honor their loved ones. Many families ask that charitable gifts be made to Hospice “in lieu of flowers” or “in addition to flowers,” and we greatly appreciate their contributions and consideration. For more information contact St. Peter Foundation at (360) 493-7981.