I had been a volunteer for about a year and a half and I when I first started I wasn't at all sure how well I would deal with going into patient's homes so I started by volunteering in the office. After a few months of processing volunteer logs I started rethinking what more I might be able to do. While volunteering at the reception desk at the Hospice Home I was asked to make a few short visits with some of the resident patients. I met a lovely gentleman who just enjoyed having someone to talk to. After this very positive experience I spoke with the volunteer coordinators and mentioned that I would be interested in visiting someone in a facility where there would be other staff around if there was any assistance needed. I still wasn't sure I was prepared to be responsible for a patient in a home.
My first visit of this type was with a patient who had dementia and her daughter thought she would enjoy having someone to read to her. I agreed and located a book by one of her preferred authors and prepared for my first visit. Admittedly, that first day was somewhat awkward based solely on my inexperience. "Miss Ann" was sitting in the common room and I wasn't quite sure how to communicate with her with all the distractions. So, we moved between the common room and Miss Ann’s room, and I left that day very unsure if I had helped her at all.
The next week when I arrived Miss Ann was in the common room again but it was much quieter but it still did not seem to a proper venue for trying to read to her. Due to her posture it was difficult to communicate with her if I was sitting on the same level so I sat on the floor in front of her and we were able to talk easier. I stayed until she started dozing.
In the following weeks we both became more comfortable with each other and I have to admit that I began to look forward to our weekly visits. Miss Ann was always concerned with hospitality and comfort of others. She was occasionally concerned about having enough food for those visiting or making sure someone's pet got the proper care but the day she warned me to be careful not to fall into the hole they had opened up for the basement they were digging I went home smiling.
It was with anticipation that I approached my visits, wondering what would be on Miss Ann's mind that day. I don't know if she ever recognized me or who she thought was visiting each week but after several visits we would share an entertaining visit and she would almost always find something to giggle about during our visit.
I hope that I was able to enrich the last few months of Miss Ann's life but I know that she greatly enriched my life and her influence on my life will last long after her presence is gone.
-by Sandy S., Volunteer