Questions and answers about Zen Hospice Project's Education and Training

What is the difference between Mindful Caregiver Education (MCE) and New Volunteer Training (NVT)? 

  • The NVT is a 43 hour training and the Introduction and Foundations courses are 7 and 17 hours respectively.
  • The NVT is a part of our volunteer caregiver program, the MCE courses are not.  MCE courses are designed for current and future caregivers serving outside our organization.
  • The NVT emphasizes both the psycho/spiritual, and clinical aspects (e.g., body mechanics, universal precautions, and assisted feedings) of caregiving in a healthcare environment. Whereas MCE’s focus is limited to psycho/spiritual.
  • Many of the teachings and exercises offered in the MCE courses are pulled from the NVT. Some have been developed specifically for MCE.
  • MCE is a great introduction to our community in anticipation of applying for NVT. However, MCE is not a formal pathway to the NVT, ie., participation in MCE does not guarantee a place in our NVT.

What is the difference between Daylong courses and the Foundations of Mindful Caregiving?

  • The Daylong courses are 7 hours of instruction and experiential activities, and the Foundations course is 17 hours.  
  • The Foundations course offers more context of our work at Zen Hospice Project that informs our curriculum.  It also allows for more time for meditation, and group processing.
  • The Foundations course offers an opportunity for more time to practice and integrate the practices and curriculum presented.
  • In the longer Foundations course, we bring in outside guest presenters to teach in addition to our core instructors.
  • The Foundations course allows for a deeper bond between instructors and participants, thus creating a more intimate atmosphere in which to learn and share.

 Is it necessary to take the Daylong course before taking Foundations course?

  • No. The courses are designed to be “stand alone,” and not sequential. However, we always suggest the Foundations of Mindful Caregiving as it is a deeper immersion.
  • The Introduction course could also be followed by the Foundations course, as a skills refresher, or for self-care support.   

 If I’ve already taken the Foundations course, what's next?

  • Yes. If you liked what you experienced and learned in the Foundations course, you would find the Deepening the Practice: Daylong III as the next step of understanding of mindful caregiving, as well as your own personal exploration of caregiving. 

If I’ve already taken the New Volunteer Training (NVT), should I take the MCE courses? Which one?

  • Any of the MCE courses would provide a nice refresher for a current or past volunteer caregiver who has previously gone through our NVT. 
  • If choosing between the daylongs, we suggest the Deepening the Practice of Mindful Caregiving: Daylong III would be best.

 Must I take an MCE before NVT?

  • No. Many of our volunteers participated in a MCE course prior to applying to become a caregiver volunteer.  Given the amount of applications received, those who have completed a Mindful Caregiver Education course will be given preferential consideration. 
  • The MCE courses are a wonderful way to learn about our work and our community before committing to the NVT.

  Why is there a charge for CE credits?

  • The additional charge for CE credits covers the administrative expenses and time associated with meeting the requirements set by the CEU accrediting organization. Some training programs include CE related administrative costs into the basic course fee for all participants, we do not. We only charge participants requesting CE credit.

 Where do the courses take place?

  • Our courses take place at various venues around San Francisco. Some of the courses are held at our Guest House facility, but not all.
  • All course venues are disability accessible, unless otherwise stated. 
  • In the event that we must change a course location, you will be notified with as much advanced notice as possible.  

How should I prepare for the courses?

  • There is no particular way to prepare for participation in our courses. It may be helpful to get a good night’s rest prior to the course. We also encourage our participants to dress comfortably and in layers for the ever-changing Bay Area weather.
  • The reading list that accompanies the confirmation email is entirely optional. The readings will support your learning, however you will be able to fully participate without doing any of the reading.

  Why is the course being cancelled?

  • Occasionally, we must cancel a course due to low enrollment. We try to give you as much advance notice as possible.
  • Because experiential activities are an essential part of the learning experience, we require a certain amount of attendees for the dyads to be beneficial
  • In the event that a course is cancelled, we will try to move your enrollment into a future course that will work for you. If you cannot move to another course date, we will refund your fee.

  Can you recommend such courses in other parts of the country?

  Is it possible to stay at the Guest House? Accommodations?

  • The Guest House only accommodates persons with a hospice diagnosis. It is a 6-bed facility.
  • We have a list of area accommodations we can gladly email you.  If you are interested, please email us at education@zenhospice.org

  What if I need to leave early or arrive late?

  • Attendance for all sessions of the course is extremely important. This is a courtesy to other participants. Each session is carefully timed to lead up to later sessions, or build off of earlier sessions. Please consider enrolling for another date if your calendar requires a late arrival or early departure.
  • Of course, emergencies cannot be avoided.

What if I cannot make the Friday evening session of the Foundations course?

  • In this case, we will require you to enroll in a future Foundations course when you can be present for the Friday evening session.

 What are my options if I cannot afford the full fee?

  • You can consider making installment payments? Please contact education@zenhospice.org to set it up. 
  • Many participants are able to have their employer sponsor their participation. We can send you a statement re: the course to use when asking your employer to support your participation.
  • We have a limited number of scholarships available for each course. Please contact education@zenhospice.org for more information.

Why do your courses cost so much money?

  • We’ve priced our courses to be competitive with similar institutions teaching similar courses.
  • Our fees reflect the real expenses of maintaining our educational programming.

Aren’t you a non-profit?

  • Zen Hospice Project has been a 501c3 non-profit corporation since 1991.

Why is the NVT $300 and the MCE courses so much more?

  • We require our new volunteers to commit to a weekly five-hour shift for one year. This is an act of great generosity to serve this way. Our fundraising efforts subsidize the real cost of training our volunteers. The real cost of our MCE programs are reflected in the course fees.

Is the course venue accessible for people with disabilities?

  • Yes, we do our best to ensure that all our participants has access to the facility, unless otherewise stated. 

Will you be serving any meals or snacks during the courses?

  • Snacks and hot beverages will be available throughout the day(s).
  • Participants are responsible for providing their own lunch. We recommend bringing a lunch, however we will provide a list of local restaurants if you choose to go out.
  • Typically, participants will have at least one hour for lunch.

 Do I need to have any background in meditation to participate?

  • No. We welcome participants even if they have no prior experience with meditation. Our instructions are intended to be fundamental. We will support you to feel at ease with meditation regardless of your level of experience.

Is it okay for me to participate if I am not a Buddhist?

  • Absolutely. Zen Hospice Projects welcomes persons of all spiritual and faith traditions into its various programs.

Do you issue a certificate upon completion?

  • If you are requesting CE credits, you will be provided with a certificate of completion detailing the total hours of CE credits for the specific course in which you participated.
  • If you are not requesting CE credits, we will provide a certificate of completion.

Are your courses appropriate for someone who is not currently in the role of caregiver?

  • Yes. The MCE courses are a wonderful opportunity to explore one’s relationship to death and dying, or to prepare for when caregiving for a loved one becomes necessary. Sooner or later, we all will be in the role of caregiver.
  • We have also found that our courses are a very supportive way of providing for essential self-care regardless of your occupation.

 Are your courses appropriate if I am dealing with a terminal illness?

  • We recommend that you contact us to discuss the details of your condition. Please reach us at education@zenhospice.org and a team member will contact you.

  Who are your guest presenters?

  • Our guest presenters have years of training in the field of mindfulness and caregiving. A list of presenters can be found on the Education and Training webpage at http://www.zenhospice.org/instructors

 Who are your instructors?

  • Our instructors have been trained by Zen Hospice Project, either in the role of volunteer caregiver or staff, or both. Also, our instructors have specialized experience in areas related to “mindful caregiving,” but outside their service with the organization.
  • A list of instructors can be found on the Education and Training webpage at http://www.zenhospice.org/instructors

 Will I be authorized to teach Mindful Caregiving Education upon completion of the course?

  • No. We ask that you not teach our course content without our expressed permission.

Typically how many participants do you have in your courses? What is the max number of participants?

  • Our courses range between 8 to 25 people in a class.
  • If your organization is interested in us leading a course at your facility, we have ways of accommodating a larger group. Please contact us at education@zenhospice.org 

Would you come to our organization and offer the MCE courses?

  • Absolutely. Please contact us at education@zenhospice.org

 Are the MCE courses relevant to me if I do not work in EOL care?

  • Yes. Our courses are designed to address the stress and burnout common to all types of caregiving.

Who should attend the course?

  • The MCE courses are designed for persons who are currently in the role of caregiver, professionally or informally. They are also very well suited to anyone who has an interest in end of life issues, or anticipates being in the role of caregiver in the future.

 How is this course different from caregiving courses at other organizations? 

  • The Zen Hospice Project MCE courses emphasize practices that cultivate heightened awareness, and openheartedness. We have worked with these practices since our inception over 30 years ago and have found that they are extremely supportive for caregivers, by minimizing stress and building resilience.
  • All our instructors and guest presenters have substantial experience in the mindfulness practice, as well as in caregiving.
  • All our instructors have substantial experience in caring for persons at the end of life.