Hospice and Palliative Care of St. Lawrence Valley makes every effort to enrich the lives of our patients and their families during the time they are under our care. Under the direction of our new Volunteer Manger, Linda Caamaño, Hospice is proud to present our new Patient Enrichment Programs. The purpose of these programs is to bring added comfort and joy to our patients and their families. Volunteers, who are already a crucial part of the Hospice team, will receive additional training in the program of their interest. To date, Hospice Patient Enrichment programs include; the Life Legacy program, music therapy, the Memory Bear Project, and a pet therapy program.
The Life Legacy program allows patients a chance to preserve their life story. A trained volunteer, over the course of several visits, interviews and records the patient telling their story. This gives patients an opportunity to record what was most significant to them, and can also lead to families learning something about their loved one they hadn’t known before. It is a gift treasured by families for years after their loved one is gone.
Music and Memory is a new program to help comfort patients living with dementia-related illnesses. Research has shown playing music that is familiar and meaningful to a patient can bring great comfort and often opens pathways to communicate and connect with others. With this program, a customized playlist is made for a patient and then delivered by one of our volunteers who brings along special headphones for them to listen with. This program helps promote interaction between the patient and the volunteer.
Through a partnership with Therapy Dogs International, certified therapy dogs and their handlers visit Hospice patients upon request to provide the unconditional love, affection and presence that only pets can give. This is especially meaningful to patients who have had to give up their own pets due to a move into a nursing facility or as a result of their illness. The emotional bonds that humans share with pets result in very positive effects: reduced anxiety and stress, increased feelings of relaxation, and an overall improved outlook on life. The Pet Therapy Program uses the natural bond between humans and animals to provide comfort, peace, and soothing companionship to terminally ill patients. The therapy dog handlers will also complete the Hospice Volunteer Training series as to stay in compliance of our scope of practice.
The Memory Bear Project (pictured above) serves to leave family members with a lasting, tangible memory of their loved one. Often, when someone we love dies, we find ourselves hanging onto anything that they once owned or reminds us of them. Through this program, custom, hand-sewn teddy bears are made from clothing that belongs to a patient. This is especially meaningful to grandchildren who will have not only something to remember their loved one by, but an object that will hopefully bring them comfort each time they hug it! This service is offered by Hospice in partnership with the women’s housing unit at the St. Lawrence County Correctional Facility in Canton.
For more information about these programs and other volunteer opportunities, contact Linda at 315-265-3105!