Hospice: compassion finds a voice

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Volunteers gather for a chat, from left, Terrie, Raylene, Kay, Christine Wilson, manager of volunteer services, Colin, June, Margaret, Margaret, Moyra and Nola.

By John Keast

‘We can’t change the destination, but we can have a big impact on the journey.”

Christine Wilson likes that quote.

Mrs Wilson is the manager of volunteer services at Hospice Mid Canterbury.

“That applies so well to hospice.”

Mrs Wilson started with hospice when the organisation was established in 2015 and worked for three years as a biographer, writing clients’ life stories.

“My mother had one night in the Invercargill Hospice in the mid 1990s and that one night opened my eyes to the care and compassion that hospice is known for, not just for the person, but for the family. I wanted to be part of that organisation.”

Others are needed, too.

Although Hospice Mid Canterbury has more than 60 volunteers in various roles, more are needed to cover holidays and commitments of the helpers.

Volunteers are needed to sit with people, for companionship, for transport, for looking after pets, and for writing biographies.

Mrs Wilson said it was important to understand Hospice Mid Canterbury was an associate hospice and did not provide clinical care.

“We work with other organisations in the community providing, including the palliative care team and social workers, doctors, Cancer Society, Presbyterian Support and many others.

“We provide additional services like sitting to give carers a break, companionship for clients, transport (for example, to and from doctor’s appointments), biography writing with trained biographers, as well as counselling services, reiki and reflexology.”

Anyone can make a referral to hospice, including family, and self referral.

Mrs Wilson said hospice was also keen to get a few more nurses in its assessment team.

Volunteers were trained.

“It’s about living well until you die. It’s not about death. Volunteers bring sunshine into the bleak times in life.”

Volunteers meet once a month for coffee and a chat, and on alternate months attend an education session.