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Hospice Volunteers: Mandated by Law

Hospice Volunteers

One of the many factors that makes hospice unique in the world of healthcare is its volunteers. There are student volunteers and hospital volunteers, AARP volunteers and Red Cross volunteers. But when it comes to hospice, volunteers are so important that their role is written into law!

The Medicare law that defines hospice care in America, enacted in 1982, requires that volunteer hours equal at least five percent of the hospice provider’s total patient care hours. The thinking was that, along with maximizing healthcare resources, volunteers would keep hospice providers community oriented and patient-and-family focused. 

It worked. Today, hospice volunteers devote more than 21 million hours annually to patients and their families nationwide. The past 31 years have proven that the best hospice care is provided by a unique combination of trained professionals and a caring community.

Hospice volunteers are as diverse as the patients they serve, covering all ages, ethnic backgrounds and lifestyles. Some volunteers are retired; others are working professionals or students. They use their time and talents in a variety of ways: visiting patients to read or offer respite for a family caregiver; running errands; cutting and styling patients’ hair or offering a massage; playing a patient’s favorite tune; bringing their pet for a loving, furry visit; doing some household repair; helping in the hospice office.

Volunteers bring a heartfelt energy, love, dedication and compassion that enhance the professional skills of the rest of the patient care team. Hospice is a richer and more profound experience because of the contributions of its volunteers

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