In the last year and a half I’ve been working at Zen Hospice Project’s Guest House as a nurse, I have so frequently been blown away by the impact their calm presence has on our residents. Their training and willingness to step in allow us to work as a team to provide steady, compassionate care even when nursing staff are involved in medical interventions. They also frequently help calm Residents going through difficult moments, often sensing just the right mix of conversation and quiet accompaniment to provide. The lessons I have learned from watching these practitioners of unmediated compassion are innumerable.
Away from the bedside, volunteers are helping Zen Hospice Project maintain and grow our capability to provide compassionate care. Our kitchen volunteers help our staff provide meals tailored to each individual Resident’s ability and preferences. When they present their beautifully-decorated plates, the care that goes into their cooking is obvious. As a nurse I am constantly impressed at how well our kitchen makes the Residents feel supported and comforted.
I also see firsthand how much our Residents appreciate the special skills volunteers. Most noticeable to me are the music volunteers, whether piano, guitar or vocal. Many times I have seen Residents soothed into peaceful sleep, or rocking out to their favorite song. One powerful classical piano piece elicited from a Russian resident an impressed “this is deluxe music.” From professional framers to experienced hospice nurses, myriad skills help support our nursing work.
Thank you to volunteers, both at Zen Hospice Project and everywhere else! Your giving spirit means so much to us nurses.
Ryan Sturges is a Licensed Vocational Nurse at Zen Hospice Project’s Guest House.
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