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Hospice needs volunteers

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SALYERSVILLE – The Bluegrass Care Navigators (BCN), formerly known as Hospice of the Bluegrass, is looking for new volunteers, with a training scheduled in April.

Mortimer Media Group sat down with representatives from BCN, including Community Engagement Coordinator Alison Casebolt, Latoshia Crace, RN, Social Worker Beth Fannin, and Lorna Isaac, RN.

Community Engagement Coordinator Alison Casebolt explained to Mortimer Media Group on Tuesday, March 10, the need for volunteers.

“We need volunteers to ease some of that burden on these families,” Casebolt said. “A lot of people take for granted being able to run to the grocery store or run errands and now they’re stuck with the dilemma of ‘now, how do I do normal things?’ Our volunteers are a very important part of our team.”

Casebolt explained that they need volunteers to do more than just respite care.

“There’s a lot of things they can do outside of respite care, which includes sitting with the patient while loved ones run out,” Casebolt said. “They just need some company. Even something as simple as painting a patient’s fingernails or curling their hair to make them feel better here.”

She explained that people have volunteered by cutting grass, delivering food boxes and handwriting condolence cards, stressing that they will find something for volunteers to do, even if they’re not ready to go in the homes.

In Magoffin County, BCN averages 10 to 15 patients, ranging from the very young to the very old. Their staff members and volunteers are all local people who also live here.

Lorna Isaac, RN, a nurse with BCN, said, “I’m sure anyone wanting to volunteer with us that this will enrich everyone’s lives. Sometimes caregivers need someone to talk to, or they need someone to watch the kids while they take care of the patient.”

They explained that they will not send volunteers into “eleventh-hour” situations, in which patients are in their final moments, unless that volunteer had specialized trainings.

“We’re talking about people still needing companionship, still able to talk to you, and just need help with a lot of everyday things we all take for granted,” Casebolt said.

“A lot of times they just need a volunteer to stay with someone,” Isaac said. “Sit with the patient. You won’t have to provide care, just keep them company and be another set of eyes on the patient. At first, it’s easier because family and friends will volunteer to help, but over time they start running out of people to ask favors of and they get burnt out, and that’s where we come in.”

Social Worker Beth Fannin explained she fell in love with everything Bluegrass Care Navigators had to offer when she was working on her undergrad at the University of Pikeville. 

“Being in the patients’ homes and being part of their life was so rewarding,” Fannin said. “Then, my grandmother needed our services a little over a year ago. My family was terrified with the word ‘hospice,’ but it was by far the best decision we made. They were just part of our family and our only regret was not calling hospice sooner.”

Casebolt explained they are mandated by Medicaid to have 5% of their staffing be covered by volunteer hours in order for their agency to be covered. 

“We’re just asking for you to volunteer,” Casebolt said. “If you’re not ready to sit in the homes, we can find something you can do to enrich our patients and their families.”

Isaac explained hospice is not just end-of-life care, and they are able to help cover costs of medications and equipment, reaching more people in the community. 

The new volunteer training is scheduled for Thursday, April 2, 2020, at 12 p.m. at the Magoffin County Public Library. Advanced registration is required, with people considering to volunteer to RSVP to Alison Casebolt by email (acasebolt@bgcarenav.org) or call 606-438-6064. 

“There’s no obligations, so come out and see if it’s something you want to do,” Casebolt said.

Volunteers will have to apply, either at the training or online at https://9419.thankyou4caring.org/volunteer-application.

She explained volunteers will have to have TB skin tests, flu shots (during flu season) and have a background check so caregivers feel comfortable with people coming into their homes.
 

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