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Bereavement Volunteers are an Inspiration

Our Bereavement Department is committed to providing bereavement services, not only to the families of our patients but to our entire community. We offer traditional group & individual counseling as well as innovative programs for children, teens and adults which address the wide range of bereavement experiences. How does this all get done with a staff of seven? One word: volunteers!

Recently, a group of bereavement volunteers completed a two-day training in a conference room near the Fund Development Offices. As we saw them each day, we were awed and honored that these people so freely offered to work with Hospice East Bay and give so much of their time to learn how to support the families of our patients. Little did we know that this two-day training was merely the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the time these volunteers give to us.

We support our patient families, via phone calls and mail, for a period of 13 months after their loved one’s death. Last year, over 20,000 letters, cards, flyers and invitations were sent to bereaved individuals. Another 4,565 calls were made to bereaved families; over 700 people participated in support groups and another 59 in individual counseling sessions.

Most of our bereavement volunteers are already patient support volunteers and have previously attended an 8-hour general agency orientation and at least 16 hours of patient volunteer training, perhaps more depending on how long they have been a volunteer. Next they attend a general 8-hour bereavement training, and another 6-8 hours depending on the program they choose. In case you are keeping track, that is more than 40 hours of training!

The Bridge Program, which supports grieving children and teens, requires a volunteer commitment of two hours per month over a period of ten months. If the volunteer is a co-facilitator in one of our many support groups, they must be available weekly for up to four months. Telephone volunteers make their calls quarterly for 13 months and those that do the in-home visitations must be available as long as their services are needed. As you can see, the commitment to become a bereavement volunteer is inspiring and the reason why these individuals are so valued here at Hospice East Bay.

The gift of time these volunteers offer allows us to provide a broader scope of services. We are proud of the quality of the services provided. According to Deyta Analytics, a third party survey vendor, 90% of the families surveyed responded that our bereavement services met their needs during their average grief period—the national benchmark is 73.2%. The quality and satisfaction that these family members experienced are a testament to the caliber and dedication of our volunteers and their training. Thank you bereavement volunteers for all you do!

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