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Volunteer team helps with long term care

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ROCHELLE B. BIRKELO
January 15, 2008
— Evelyn LaVigne spends much of her day watching cooking shows on TV in the privacy of her room at Cedar Crest.

She also loves to play bingo and is good at the game, judging from all the stuffed animals she's won.


But the 85-year-old most enjoys the social interaction she gets during her visits from her HospiceCare of Rock County team of volunteers.


"It's nice to talk to somebody other than my kids and the nurses. I'd like them to come every day," LaVigne said.


The new volunteer team concept was established within the volunteer department of the local HospiceCare to provide continuity of care and consistent support to patients at long-term care facilities.


"We discuss many things, including family and health," LaVigne said.


"Cooking, too," said volunteer Caroline Arndt, before waving goodbye and telling LaVigne she'd see her later.


Before the team concept, volunteers saw one patient a week. Now, through better use of time, patients get shorter, multiple visits, said Jayme Roth, volunteer coordinator at HospiceCare's Rock County office in Janesville.


"If a patient is sleeping, with a nurse or guest, they (volunteers) go to the next patient," Roth said.


Volunteer teams are scheduled for weekly shifts at assigned facilities, such as Cedar Crest, where staff gives assignments based on patient needs for that day. Volunteers then "make rounds" during their two-hour shifts, serving HospiceCare patients living at that particular facility.


Volunteers interact with patients in a variety of ways. Those might include reading to them, watching TV or movies together, listening to music, taking walks, attending facilities activities or just visiting, Roth said.


The benefits of the program are many, said Andrea Zimmerman, public affairs coordinator for HospiceCare.


"The quality of time volunteers spend with a HospiceCare patient is enhanced; the services provided to these patients is increased, and the relationships between the volunteer and facility staff are developed," she said.


"It is better for the facility, HospiceCare patients and volunteers," Roth said.


Volunteers also are more willing to go to facilities now because they understand what their role is by signing into the activity center, Roth said.


"Patients feel a connection with the same volunteer, who comes week after week," Roth said.


"It's very beneficial because the volunteers get more of the one-on-one," said Dawn LeHuray, Cedar Crest assistant activities director, who makes the volunteer assignments.


"Volunteers, in teams, are able to provide that extra care and comfort, plus it helps the patient's psychological well being when they have somebody to talk to," LeHuray said.


"Our volunteers love it at Cedar Crest," Roth said.


They agreed.


"I really like the organized schedule," Arndt said.


Swanson said, "I can sign in and take the assignment card," which also notes a patient's background and interests and if there is a change in the patient's health.


"It's a communication tool that helps everyone," LeHuray said.


"Two community organizations collaboratively networking is a positive thing," said Rhonda Hartwig, vice president of independent living/marketing at Cedar Crest. "It allows volunteers to come into a long-term facility setting which is a home, too."


HOW TO HELP

Currently, eight volunteers make up HospiceCare’s team of facilities’ volunteers. More volunteers are needed. They must be 16 or older and attend orientation from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Mondays, Feb. 11 and March 10, at the local HospiceCare office, 3001 W. Memorial Drive, Janesville.


Call Pamela Thomas, HospiceCare volunteer coordinator at (608) 314-2951 or e-mail pamela.thomas@hospicecareinc.com to register.

HospiceCare facilities’ volunteers already provide support to patients in Janesville and Stoughton and eventually will do so in Beloit, Delavan/Darien, Whitewater, Lake Geneva and Milton/Edgerton.


By the Numbers
34 percent

of dying patients in Rock County are served by HospiceCare
500

Patients being served daily, in Rock and Dane counties, by HospiceCare today
8,000

People who participated in HospiceCare grief support groups, in Rock and Dane counties, in 2007
600

People who attended HospiceCare presentations in Rock and Dane counties in 2007
225

Nursing, pharmacy, medical, social work and other students, residents and fellows who went through HospiceCare’s rotation program in 2007

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