My name is Jim Hoare and I have been volunteering at Blackrock Hospice for the past six years. When I retired from a career in banking, I felt I had more to give and didn’t want to just play golf, travel and live a sedentary lifestyle. Blackrock Hospice was the first place I applied to as a volunteer. Initially I was informed that there were no vacancies available unless I was interested in a position as a receptionist at weekends. I jumped at the opportunity as I like meeting people.
The job is varied – sometimes I may have to locate the doctor on call and pass on information from a particular patient who may be at home at the time. Then there is the moment when the undertaker might ring to ask what time would it be convenient to collect the remains of the person who passed on during the previous night. I also receive donations from groups and individuals and issue a receipt for same. I take first time visitors to the wards personally, introduce them to the staff on duty and show them where the canteen is located.
The feeling I get when entering a place where people come to spend their last days is one of serenity and peace. There is a wonderful feeling of respect, dignity and divine love in the building and the energy I am sure is from the angels looking after everybody.
I am sometimes called upon to read a book or the paper for someone. This often spills over into a chat about anything under the sun.
I know the patients are grateful for the service the hospice provides and the staff of the hospice are grateful for those of us who give of our time to volunteer in whatever capacity.
I wish to continue my volunteering services by applying the skills I have developed over my working career.
I am married to Bob and am the mother of 3 grown up children. In 1996, 2 years after my mum died from cancer, I joined Our Lady’s Hospice & Care Services in Harold’s Cross as a volunteer and then in 2006 I moved to Blackrock Hospice as it was closer to home.
I am an evening volunteer, which means I arrive in after the kitchen staff have gone home at 6.00pm and stay for 2 hours. My main task is to be an extra pair of hands for the nursing and caring staff. I visit each patient (there are 12 rooms) and offer them and their visitors a cup of tea. I find it is often the visitor that appreciates the tea more than the patient, as they may be sitting with their loved one all day long. I will also do any general tidy up in the sitting rooms and the 2 bedrooms that are there especially for families. If a nurse or carer recognises that a patient would like to chat to someone or perhaps have a paper or book read to them, I am there to do so.
What I love most about volunteering in the Hospice is that I leave the busy world behind and enter a space of calm and peace. I love the way the staff – who must be run off their feet at times – know each patient individually and act with such care, compassion and love. People say to me the hospice must be a very sad place to volunteer in, but nothing could be further from the truth. If I were to advise any new volunteers I would say, be yourself. Life in the hospice is very normal for the patients, who are encouraged to live life to the full and our role as volunteers is to help them do so.