Volunteer with hospice and palliative care

Do you want to provide a valuable service to our community that can add insight and meaning to your own life? Do you desire to encourage and uplift others thru an emotional and spiritual connection? Do you find joy in providing practical support to those in the community that are in need of help? Do you want to make a lasting difference in another person's life?

If so, then volunteering for Spectrum Health Hospice and Palliative Care may be right for you. We invite you to explore the many opportunities within our patient care team and organization.

Spectrum Health Hospice serves end of life patients in a wide geographic area across 11 counties in West Michigan. Volunteers choose the geographic area, role and the amount of time they would like to serve. Most volunteers donate one hour per week; however, others donate more or less time, as their schedule allows.

Become a volunteer

Roles and opportunities
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Here are some of the ways volunteers help us every day:

  • Bedside harpist: Program harps available
  • Caregiver relief: Support for caregivers in home environment
  • Caring crafters: Seamstresses/quilters, crochetier and knitters
  • Compassionate connection: Skilled application of lotion for hands and arms (training provided)
  • Cosmetology: Provide haircuts for housebound patients (must have current Michigan license)
  • Eleventh hour support: Bedside presence during last 24 to 72 hours of life
  • Energy therapy: Reiki, Healing Touch (must be certified)
  • Friendly visits: Social support for patients in homes, long-term care or assisted living facilities
  • Grief companion: One-on-one bereavement support
  • Housework and yard maintenance: One-time only and ongoing
  • My life story: Assist in documenting life stories of patients
  • Photography services: Individual and family photo sessions
  • Singer/instrumentalists: Provide music at the bedside
  • Visiting pet: Certified therapy dogs, cats and their owners
  • Welcoming spaces: Background music in hospital and facility settings (abbreviated training requirements)
Requirements for most volunteer roles
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  • Must be at least 18 years old and at least one year past any significant losses.
  • In addition to the Spectrum Health Volunteer standard vaccination and personal identifier requirements, upon application and orientation volunteers must consent to a criminal history check, submit a copy of current driver’s license, submit to a fingerprinting background check and provide two references.
  • Report any physical limitations so that you may be assigned to duties that will not jeopardize your health or interfere with the functions of the volunteer program.
  • Be able to provide your own transportation or have public transportation available.
  • Complete hospice volunteer orientation course. If you have graduated from a similar training elsewhere, please submit a description of the training program to the coordinator for review.
  • All volunteers are encouraged to attend hospice educational in-service sessions offered thru out the year. Hospice holds in-services on a wide range of topics. They are designed to assist you in your role as a volunteer and create opportunities to engage with fellow volunteers and Spectrum Health Hospice staff members.
  • Have time available in your schedule to commit to volunteering on a regular basis. Our program is flexible, allowing volunteers to serve several hours a week, a few hours a month or occasional, one time only opportunities.
  • Have examined feelings about death and loss and made an appropriate adjustment to significant losses in your own life. We reserve the right to decide whether a volunteer, under stress, should continue in the program or delay participation.
  • Have the personal qualities of positive approach to life, maturity, empathy, flexibility, a sense of humor, and a willingness to help others. The person should also have the ability and willingness to work with a team.
  • Respect the confidentiality of hospice patients and families and all information about the patients and families conveyed by staff or coming from the family itself. You will be required to sign a confidentiality statement. In addition, all volunteers are required to complete HIPAA training during their orientation course and annually.
  • Minimum one year commitment, post-onboarding, required.
Next steps and orientation
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Most volunteers will be required to participate in our informative orientation program. Whether you are working with patients or office projects, you will receive in-depth instruction to help you volunteer with confidence. Training topics include:

  • Hospice philosophy, goals and services 
  • Comfort care vs. curative care 
  • Team approach to care 
  • Patient/family rights, including confidentiality 
  • Listening and communication skills 
  • Physiological, psychosocial and spiritual care 
  • Grief support
  • Family dynamics 
  • Boundaries with patient/family caregivers 
  • Medical emergencies/death 
  • Safety policies and procedures 
  • Cultural sensitivity 
  • Confidentiality and HIPAA 
  • Documentation
Additional information
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We schedule multiple volunteer orientation classes thru out the year. We maintain an ongoing communication list that shares announcements of upcoming orientations and registration instructions.

Contact information

For more information on hospice volunteering, call 616.391.4240 or send an email to hospice.volunteers@spectrumhealth.org.

Become a Volunteer