The second in a series…
A Conversation with Allison Griffith, HHPC Volunteer Coordinator
Allison Griffith joined the Hub Hospice Palliative Care (HHPC) team on a part-time basis almost 5 years ago. Allison graduated from the University of Western Ontario with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BScN) and from Queen’s University with a Masters of Public Administration with a specialization in Health Policy. She has worked in a variety of Community Nursing positions throughout her career including as a rural public health nurse, director of volunteer services and for the past 15 years as a part-time clinical professor in the School of Nursing at the University of Ottawa. Allison attended LEAP training (Learning Essential Approaches to Palliative and end of Life Care). Through personal and professional experience she developed a special interest in supporting individuals and families at end of life.
What is the Role of HHPC Volunteer Coordinator?
Although my background in nursing it is important to note that my role at HHPC is as Coordinator of the Volunteer Home Visiting Program. In other words, I am coordinating a volunteer program rather than providing direct nursing care. This is a diverse role and includes recruitment, screening and coordinating training for our home visiting volunteers. I receive new referrals to the hospice home visiting program and make an initial assessment home visit. Following the assessment visit I match a home visiting volunteer with the family. Volunteer monthly reports and meetings ensure ongoing follow-up and support. I maintain contact with the individual and family to monitor the situation.
What is the Initial Assessment Visit?
The initial assessment involves getting to know the individual and family. This includes listening to life stories and hearing about their palliative journey. In discussion with the individual and the family, we identify current services in the home and gaps in service, along with providing information and referral. There are many very important palliative services and supports for people who are faced with a life threatening diagnosis in our community including the Champlain LHIN Home Care Program, The Civitan Club medical equipment cupboard, The Mills Community Support, Meals on Wheels, our local hospitals and physicians and the Bruyere Palliative Outreach Team to name just a few. Our Home visiting Program is one part of a constellation of palliative services.
Are you the Only Coordinator with HHPC?
Pamela Murphy, a graduate of Royal Victoria Belfast, joined our team as a relief RN. She is a fabulous support to our home visiting program following twelve years as the Director of Resident Care at Fairview Manor and, previously, as Director of Care at Country Haven. Pam is very knowledgeable regarding community resources and a great addition to the team.
Who Are Your Hospice Home Visiting Volunteers?
Our home visiting Volunteers are a group of amazing people from a variety of professional backgrounds including several retired teachers. Although they all have different interests, one thing that all of our volunteers have in common is compassion, genuine caring and great listening skills. All home visiting volunteers are required to complete a comprehensive volunteer palliative training course. The initial training, as well as our home visiting policies that includes a confidentiality agreement signed by volunteers, are all based on standards set by the Hospice Palliative Care Ontario (HPCO). Continuing education is offered to all of our volunteers and this year included The Champlain LHIN regional palliative education day, an art journaling workshop and bereavement support training with Tara Cohen, MSW from the Champlain LHIN. Home Visiting Volunteers are required to submit monthly visiting logs and updates after each visit as a well as attending a monthly meeting.
What is the Focus of the Home Visiting Program?
The focus of our program is on the social needs and life enrichment of the person who is diagnosed with a life-threatening illness and also on providing support to the family and caregivers. Our current work with Dr. Cheryl Jones PHD music therapist, which is funded by the OutCare foundation and colourful quilts crafted by the Almonte Crazy Quilters for our clients are a couple of ways that we bring joy into the homes we visit. Our home visiting volunteers share their personal gifts through music, reading, sitting, sharing a cup of tea or simply listening. Their gentle presence and companionship is a complement to the medical care provided by other services in the home. Both individual and group bereavement support are part of our program. Matching one of our Home Visiting Volunteers with similar interests and hobbies is very important!
Are you Looking for New Volunteers?
Yes, we welcome new volunteers. To become a home visiting volunteer you need to complete a volunteer application which is found on our website. Following an initial interview, potential volunteers must complete 35 hours of palliative care volunteer training and a follow-up interview. These training session are offered about once a year, when we have a minimum of 10 new volunteers. There are also many other volunteer opportunities.
How do I make a referral to the Home Visiting Program? Or find out more?
Referrals are accepted from a variety of sources including self-referrals, from a family member or caregiver, health care professionals and community agencies with the consent of the individual. The criteria for a referral is a life-threatening or life-limiting diagnosis and can be made at the time of diagnosis.
What is Your Wish for Hub Hospice Palliative Care?
That together with our palliative partners in both the community and hospital settings we are able to fulfill our HHPC Vision that: Every person at the end of their life may live in dignity, respect and comfort and not feel alone. I hope that our home visiting program will make a difference by providing a caring presence, compassion and enriching end of life for people and families in our community wherever they call home.
To make a referral or find out more about the home visiting program you can connect with Allison by email at [email protected] or phone 613-406-7020. To protect confidentiality personal information for a referral will be collected with a follow-up telephone call.
About Hub Hospice Palliative Care
Hub Hospice Palliative Care (HHPC) is a not-for-profit registered Canadian charity funded through donations and targeted fundraising initiatives. We are a “Hospice without walls.” We provide in-home palliative care support for adult clients and their families (personal residences, long-term care homes, retirement homes or hospitals) in North Lanark.