Hospice of Central Ohio has launched an initiative aimed at improving confidence and competency for volunteers new to the role of patient companion. The concept, explains Volunteer Services Manager Liz Adamshick, is to connect new companions with seasoned companions to gain insights and experience. “Who better to answer their questions and offer advice?” says Liz. “We offer a list of skill areas and a variety of mentors. New volunteers can select the skill area where they want more information and reach out to volunteer mentors who can answer their questions and offer ideas. If a new volunteer wants to be coached on how to initiate conversations or establish appropriate boundaries, we have volunteers with years of experience who can offer invaluable insights into such topics.”
The program had long been on the drawing board, but moved into the realm of reality with help from a masters-level social work intern who helped develop the program, complete with measurable data points to track impact. “We believe peer-to-peer support will be tremendously beneficial in strengthening skills and leadership for new and seasoned volunteers. In the long-term the real beneficiaries will be patients and families who receive volunteer companionship.”
Specific guidelines help direct mentors and mentees, and coordinate the process with the interdisciplinary team. Identification and training of sixteen mentors and nearly a dozen new volunteers involved in the pilot project is complete, and now data is being collected to measure outcomes. “We will be looking for a direct impact on patients and families, as well as on the new patient companions,” Liz explains. “If the results support our hypothesis, we may determine if this is a best practice we can help other organizations implement.”
For additional information about the patient companion mentor program, please contact Liz Adamshick at Hospice of Central Ohio at firstname.lastname@example.org or 740-788-1404.