by Gisele R. Siebold
Ascend Hospice, serving eight counties throughout Pennsylvania, believes in using a personalized and holistic approach to hospice care in their work with patients and their families at home, in skilled care facilities and in nursing home facilities.
As part of their focus on caring, Ascend relies upon volunteers to offer specialized services, including aromatherapy, massage therapy, reiki and pet therapy, to enhance the hospice experience and offer a loving touch to those nearing end of life.
According to Volunteer Coordinator Marina McGough, Ascend is always open to welcoming new volunteers. “We provide a comprehensive training program, and volunteers then utilize their specialized skills with each patient and their families, as well as with facility staff, for comfort, relaxation and personal growth.”
Volunteers work in a rich environment. “Hospice clients are very receptive to holistic therapies,” McGough explains, adding that Ascend even uses a blend of five aromatherapy essential oils that was specifically designed for their hospice patients. “Trained in the use of this special blend of essential oils, volunteers facilitate touch and encourage comfort and family bonding,” she says. Massage therapy and reiki can help relieve stress and anxiety for both patients and their caregivers. Massage can also help with specific areas of the body that might be bothering the patient, while also fulfilling the essential need of touch.
“Our volunteers make a tremendous difference in the lives of our patients and their caregivers,” says McGough. “They receive constant support, and care services are scheduled at their convenience. In exchange for volunteering as little as one hour a week of their time, volunteers receive a truly rewarding experience in return.”