Hospice Care Volunteers

Supported with training and mentorship, Hebrew SeniorLife hospice volunteers are the heart of our hospice program.

Volunteers are the heart of our hospice program. Hospice care places extraordinary value on the selfless sharing of time, energy, and compassion by individuals for others at their most vulnerable time of life. As a hospice uniquely knowledgeable in Jewish traditions, we are pleased to offer this opportunity for volunteers of all faiths to perform the mitzvah (Jewish religious commandment) of bikkur holim (visiting the sick).

Learn More about Being a Hospice Volunteer

We are here to guide you through the application process as well as the meaningful work ahead.

Direct Patient Involvement
Volunteers provide company and social interaction to patients and family caregivers. You may sit quietly with a patient who is resting, or engage in conversation, read aloud, write a letter, reminisce, or play an instrument. A volunteer’s presence may provide much needed respite for the caregiver to take care of themselves, their home, and other members of their family. You might have the occasion to prepare a light meal, provide transportation, or take care of some basic shopping.

Administrative Support
Our busy hospice care office would love your help with administrative tasks, such as filing, answering phones, mailings, or preparing for an event.

Alternative Therapies
Are you trained as a massage, music, or pet therapist, Reiki practitioner, or aromatherapist? Gain satisfaction using your skills with our patients and families.

Special Skills
Like to scrapbook? Are you a licensed hairdresser? Do you play an instrument or practice yoga? We invite you to use your special talents to enhance our patients’ lives.

Our program requires participation in a 20-hour training program. This training will qualify you to competently provide services following the standards of Medicare and the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, as well as provide training on the wide range of Jewish perspectives and practices around end of life. The group training meets weekly for a seven-week period.

Volunteers are asked to provide a minimum of two to four hours, spread over one or two visits, each week. Timing of the visits is flexible and is determined by the mutual needs of the patient, family, and the volunteer’s personal schedule. You must be willing to drive to visit patients in local communities. Documentation of visits is required of all volunteers.

Our volunteer services manager works to not only recruit, train, and assign our volunteers but also to support each of them throughout their work. Hebrew SeniorLife also provides opportunities for continuing education and monthly volunteer gatherings to support you in this important work. As a valued member of the hospice team, you work alongside nurses, social workers, complementary therapists, and our chaplain.

In addition to the training program above, requirements also include a written application, interview, reference checks, and medical/CORI clearance. To begin this process, download the application here and submit it to:  Lesley Orlinksy, Volunteer Services Manager, Hebrew SeniorLife Hospice Care at lesleyorlinsky@hsl.harvard.edu. Call us at 781-234-9186 with any questions about our program.

Get Application

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A Volunteer Shares His Experience

Hospice volunteer Bill Shulman describes the experience as surprisingly joyful.

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The Importance of Hospice Volunteers

Sara Smolover, our volunteer services manager, explains the crucial role of volunteers within the larger hospice team.

What People are saying about Hebrew SeniorLife

  • "The comfort my family has received from hospice led me to become a volunteer to help ease the path for patients and offer support and relief to their caretakers. Whatever the specifics of a visit — taking a walk together, sharing a cup of tea, listening to cherished memories — being truly present is a gift. Not just to the patients and their loved ones, but to the volunteers whose lives are enriched by this profound human connection."

    Cynthia Bronner Headshot

    Cynthia Broner

    Volunteer and Family Member

  • "For me, being a hospice volunteer is both an honor and a privilege to know that my visits free the family of their concern of not being able to constantly be attending to the dying patient —even if just for a little while — and, hopefully, give comfort to the hospice patient, as well."

    Linda Curtis Headshot

    Linda Curtis

    Hospice Volunteer