More terminally ill people are expected to spend their final days at home due to continued coronavirus restrictions in hospitals and nursing homes.
Warrnambool and District Community Hospice's new manager Emmalee Bell said she anticipated a rise in the demand for the free service, which was put on hold for most of 2020 due to coronavirus restrictions.
"I think the thought of being in the final days of your life in a hospital or nursing home where you can't be surrounded by all of your friends and family because of current restrictions is quite traumatic," she said.
"If someone is in the comfort of their own home they can, within home-visiting restrictions, have all of those special people around them."
Ms Bell and volunteer coordinator Leeona Van Duynhoven took the reins from retiring hospice manager Lu Butler.
Ms Bell said the service was seeking more volunteers to help keep up with the anticipated increase in clients.
She said there were currently 100 trained volunteers, of which about 40 were active members.
Six new volunteers were trained via Zoom during last year's coronavirus lockdowns.
Ms Bell said hospice volunteers provided practical and emotional support designed to ease burdens felt by people with a life-limiting condition and those who cared for them.
"That support looks different in every case and we tailor it to the needs of the person and their family," she said.
"Often it is lots of cups of tea, hanging out the washing or helping out in the garden. There are a lot of different things that can free up the time of the carer to spend more time with the person who is dying, or have a bit of respite themselves."
Ms Bell said it was just as much about taking the pressure off the carer as it was assisting the person who was dying.
She said 38 per cent of admissions to nursing or residential care was due to carer burn out.
"If someone's pain can be managed at home then why can't they be there when they die? It's just about keeping them comfortable," Ms Bell said.
"The main issue is a lack of social and community support that makes it difficult but that is where volunteers step in to provide that practical and emotional support."
Prospective volunteers are now being recruited to join the next training program due to to commence on March 29. The training sessions will run for nine weeks from 6-9pm.
Those interested should call 5563 3220 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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