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Volunteering in Hospice Care during the Pandemic

Ever since Bianca graduated from the University of Toronto in 2013, the need to volunteer with a Hospice program has been calling to her.

“Connecting with someone and providing support in whatever way I can while they’re going through their end-of-life journey is something that I felt I wanted to do,” she said. “I just want to be there for that person.”

Bianca took her time searching for opportunities to volunteer in a Hospice program. It wasn’t until recently that she decided to join the Circle of Care Hospice volunteer community.

“Initially, I had doubts about whether or not I could be there to emotionally support someone,” Bianca said. “And then I had this light bulb moment, because it’s not about them helping me, it’s about me helping them. So, I thought ‘Shouldn’t I try?’”

Bianca started volunteering in our Hospice care program in January 2020, right before the pandemic hit. She started working with two Hospice clients, and both their attitudes and outlook on life inspired her to continue volunteering with those in Hospice care indefinitely.

“They’re just so strong, they’re so resilient, and they’re so positive. Even when there’s hard days, they’re not hiding, they’re very open,” Bianca said. “I just admire them because they’re able to get past their terminal diagnosis and still enjoy life and still see the value of life. It makes me look at my own life differently.”

Pre-pandemic, Circle of Care volunteers always had the opportunity to meet and form a connection with their Hospice clients in person. They would visit in the home, and provide respite relief for other family members.

Bianca has only ever talked to her clients over the phone.

“Not being able to see a person makes it more difficult, because I can’t read their body language, or look at them,” she said. “But, it made me a better listener in a way, because now I listen to tone. That is really what I have to rely on in order to interpret what is being said.”

When asked if she could recall a moment where she knew she had made a difference, she refused to take credit, and focused instead on her clients.

“I’m there to listen and give them any emotional support I can. I find that they are the ones who drive their experience and they’re the ones who have made the improvement in their lives. I don’t take credit for any of that,” Bianca said. “I just feel privileged for them to even share any time with me and talk to me about their lives and everything.”

Bianca is a Circle of Care hospice volunteer who provides support for clients with a terminal or life-limiting illness. Hospice volunteers are a specialized group of volunteers who offer many services that include companionship, emotional support and practical assistance to our clients and short-term relief to client families and caregivers. Hospice volunteers are specially trained (mandatory 30 hour training) and are asked to commit to 2-4 hours per week. Training is free and is offered three times a year: winter, spring and fall. While we are currently unable to accept new Hospice volunteers at the moment due to the pandemic, we ask that you consider becoming a Hospice volunteer in the future.