Updated June 25, 2018
It’s not too often that you encounter someone who has that rare selfless quality of committing their time to caring for patients during their end-of-life experience at hospice. It takes a special kind of strength to invest time in taking care of people that you know are nearing their end-of-life, and nurturing a personal connection with them. At Alliance Hospice in Augusta, we are fortunate to have a very special volunteer by the name of Joe Lewis, who shares heartfelt compassion with our hospice patients.
Joe Lewis has been volunteering his time at Alliance Hospice for nearly four and half years. During that time, Joe has given the gift of compassion to dozens of hospice patients and their caregivers. After retiring from his career as a traveling engineer, Joe looked for something to do. His doctor, who was affiliated with Alliance Hospice, suggested that Joe explore volunteering at Alliance Hospice.
Since then, Joe has devoted much of his time caring for hospice patients. “When I read the bible to Alzheimer patients, I know that I reach them,” explains Joe. “One woman with end-stage Alzheimers was always in constant motion when awake. But when I would read the bible to her, she would settle down with her arms crossed over her chest and feel relaxed, and lay still listening.”
During his visits to nursing homes and personal homes, Joe reads to hospice patients who are not as aware, and connects on a meaningful level with patients in end-stages of illnesses who remain lucid. “Some of it tears at your heart, but I have several good rapports with patients that I speak with,” said Joe Lewis. “I sit and talk to them about the news, what’s been going on, what kind of work they did, things that happened in their lives, whatever makes them happy.”
Joe also provides a tremendous amount of much-needed relief to caregivers by staying with hospice patients for 2-3 hours at a time while their caregivers, often spouses or children, take a break.
Recently, Joe volunteered by helping a retired Baptist minister. “We’d sit and discuss the bible, different stories,” recalls Joe. “We had a good rapport there, it was kind of hard when he passed. He helped me more than I helped him.”
We are always in need of more kind-hearted volunteers like Joe to help us take care of our hospice patients, and I sincerely hope that Joe’s story will inspire others to lend a hand.
About the Author
Bruce Dalglish has served as the Chairman and CEO of Alliance Hospice and All Caring Hospice since 2005. In this role, Bruce Dalglish oversees the development and strategic direction of both companies. From 2008 – 2013, Bruce Dalglish served on the Public Policy Committee of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO).
Disclaimer: Blogs by R. Bruce Dalglish provide educational information, not medical advice. Please consult with your medical providers when making end-of-life care decisions.