Volunteers Provide Comfort and Companionship at Skirball Hospice
Connections to Care Mobile Hero
Home / News & Events / Newsletter / Volunteers Provide Comfort and Companionship at Skirball Hospice

Volunteers Provide Comfort and Companionship at Skirball Hospice

Apr 1, 2016

The mission of the Los Angeles Jewish Home’s Skirball Hospice is to provide high-quality, compassionate care to patients enabling them to approach the end of their lives with dignity and in comfort among people they know and love.

The hospice staff works diligently in order to ensure the patient’s medical, physical, psychological, and spiritual needs are met. Volunteers become an integral part of the hospice care team, especially when patients have little or no family or community support. They provide patients and their families with comfort, compassion, companionship, and a sense of well-being in the final stages of life’s journey.

Old couple holding hands

During the average visit with a patient, a volunteer might be asked to:

  • Provide companionship and listen to a patient’s concerns
  • Be comforting and offer family members emotional support
  • Engage in the patient’s favorite activities and hobbies
  • Encourage the patient to talk about his/her life
  • Communicate with other members of the hospice team
  • Run errands for the patient and his/her family
  • Take beloved family pets for a walk
  • Run errands for the patient and his/her family
  • Assist a patient in organizing papers or writing memoirs

Because this work is unusual and can be emotionally demanding, searching for the right person to fill this position can be a challenging process. Skirball Hospice volunteer coordinator Lee Rothman, M.Ed., M.A. explains, “When I look for volunteers, I search for someone who is patient, respectful, empathetic, non-judgmental, and comfortable in their own skin. A hospice volunteer must be comfortable being around people who they know will not get better.”

Many volunteers, like Peter Giannini, have experienced the loss of a loved one and feel compelled to share their knowledge with others facing the same struggles. “There’s a lot of emotion tied up with losing a loved one. When my mother passed a few years ago, I went through it all. Thanks to that experience, I am better able to come into these delicate situations and give my patients and their families the support they need to get through this difficult time.”

Volunteering at Skirball Hospice is a wonderful opportunity for people who only have a few hours a week to give– our volunteers can do so much during that time to brighten up someone’s day. Whether you are having a discussion, reading, listening to music, or enjoying a meal together, the simple act of being present and in each other’s company can be deeply satisfying for you and your patient.

Being a hospice volunteer is an intellectually and emotionally fulfilling activity. Lee observes, “Skirball Hospice volunteers benefit from experiencing the different aspects of caring for the terminally ill. They gain a deeper understanding of death, dying, grief, loss, and end of life decision-making. These volunteers have the opportunity to make a tremendous difference in someone’s life. Not only do they get to know their patients and their families, they are able to learn a lot about themselves. Hospice philosophy views death as a natural part of life. Volunteering with hospice patients can lead to a greater appreciation for one’s own life.”

For many, volunteering at hospice has been an eye-opening experience. “In my time working with Hospice patients, I’ve been exposed to something not many people have the chance to experience,” Skirball volunteer Bob Moore shares. “I’ve learned a wealth of information – I’m so much more aware about aging and the last stages of life. I’m experiencing a whole new aspect of quality of life and care."

Skirball Hospice volunteer Peter Marcus feels the same way. “Whatever preconceived notions you have about end of life care, shake them off. There is beauty to be found in the extraordinary circumstances where we find ourselves. It’s worthwhile work. It offers a real opportunity to do something useful, and a greater sense of understanding if you’re paying attention.”

With as little as one hour a week, a volunteer can greatly enhance the lives of a Hospice patient and his or her family. If you are interested in becoming a volunteer at the Jewish Home’s Skirball Hospice, visit their volunteer page online for more information or contact Lee Rothman, volunteer coordinator, at Lee.Rothman@jha.org or (818) 774-3040 extension 355.

Sign up for the LAJHealth Newsletter, Connections.

Recent Articles

Jul 5

With 100 Years of Excellence in Senior Care, Los Angeles Jewish Home Transitions to New Name More Reflective of the Broad Spectrum of Senior Care Offerings Available to All

With a new name and continued focus on meeting diverse senior needs, Los Angeles Jewish Health meets seniors where they are in life, providing a customized senior experience. (RESEDA, CA – July 5, 2022) As it continues to build on more than a century of providing an array of high-quality residential living options and care for Southern California seniors, the Los Angeles Jewish Home is unveiling a new name: Los Angeles Jewish Health. The updated identity reflects Los Angeles Jewish Health’s commitment to offering area seniors a full complement of exceptional programs and services and a comprehensive continuum of care, whether that care is at home, in the community, or on one of their beautiful campus settings. “Over the years, as the needs of our community members have expanded and changed, we have evolved, too, expanding the scope of healthcare services we provide. It is now the right time to transition to a name more reflective of the vast array of senior care services and living options available through Los Angeles Jewish Health, while still remaining true to our mission and Jewish values,” said Dale Surowitz, CEO-president of Los Angeles Jewish Health. Los Angeles Jewish Health is a national leader in senior health and wellness. Established in 1912 in East Los Angeles to assist Jewish men seeking shelter, today Los Angeles Jewish Health cares for a diverse group of thousands of seniors each year through independent housing, adult day care, skilled nursing facilities, short-term rehabilitation, hospice services, and more. What began as a modest residential facility at the turn of the previous century has grown into a leading senior health system, providing for a rapidly growing elder population with a broad range of geriatric and specialty healthcare needs. By 2030, one in five Americans are projected to be older individuals. Seniors 85 and older are the fastest growing segment of this population and are expected to increase fivefold over the next 30 years, from four million in 2000 to 21 million in 2050.“Shifting demographics demand that we sharpen our focus to ensure we are an available senior care resource for every member of our community,” Surowitz said. “As we have for more than 100 years, we look forward to contributing Los Angeles Jewish Health’s extensive experience and medical expertise toward better health outcomes for all seniors.” About Los Angeles Jewish Health: Founded in 1912, and formerly known as the Los Angeles Jewish Home, the non-profit Los Angeles Jewish Health is the largest single-source provider of comprehensive senior healthcare services in the Los Angeles area, serving nearly 4,000 people each year. Thousands of seniors benefit from the Los Angeles Jewish Health’s community-based and in-residence care and services. Programs include: PACE (A Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly); hospice; palliative medicine; community clinics; short-term rehabilitation; and acute psychiatric care. Four campuses (Eisenberg Village, Grancell Village, Fountainview at Eisenberg Village, and Fountainview at Gonda Westside) serve seniors with options for independent living, residential care, skilled nursing care, short-term rehabilitation, and Alzheimer’s disease and memory care. In addition, Los Angeles Jewish Health is home to the Annenberg School of Nursing.
Read More
Mar 15

Los Angeles Jewish Health Resident and Holocaust Survivor Celebrates Bat Mitzvah, and 92nd Birthday, during 100th Anniversary of the first American to celebrate a Bat Mitzvah

(RESEDA, CA – March 15, 2022) History will be made at the Los Angeles Jewish Home, Thursday, March 18 as beloved resident and Holocaust survivor Frieda Thompson turns 92 on the same day she will be called to Torah for her Bat Mitzvah. This date also marks the 100th anniversary of when Judith Kaplan, at age twelve, became the first American girl to celebrate a Bat Mitzvah on March 18, 1922. Frieda Thompson, whose parents were murdered by the Nazis, still recalls that one of her mother’s final actions was to ensure her brother was called to Torah for his Bar Mitzvah even as there was chaos all around. Frieda studied for her Bat Mitzvah a few years ago, but COVID-19 prevented gathering as a community at that time. Now, with family flying in for the big day, Frieda will celebrate her Bat Mitzvah during the weekly Shabbat Eve. Service, in the Weinberg Courtyard of the Jewish Home, in front of loving family, caring staff, and dozens of fellow Jewish Home residents. When asked what this day means to her, Frieda offers, “Moses was loyal to his family and to the Jewish people. I too have always felt loyal to my family and the Jewish People.” In commenting on the significance of this lifetime milestone Rabbi Karen Bender commented, “As a small child, Frieda was forced to raise her hand and call out ‘Heil Hitler’. Today her voice rings out as a cherished leader among her peers.” Note: Media interested in attending the Service/Bat Mitzvah must be fully vaccinated/boosted/masked – and must RSVP in advance.
Read More
Mar 12

Los Angeles Jewish Home Accepts New Resident Applications

After pandemic-related pause, premier senior living facility reopens its doors (RESEDA, CA – March 12, 2021) The Los Angeles Jewish Home announced it is accepting applications for new residents, as well as participants in its community-based programs, after an extended pause in admissions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The reopening coincides with the one-year anniversary of the nationwide shutdown resulting from the coronavirus. Dale Surowitz, CEO-president of the Jewish Home, says welcoming new seniors will enable the organization to continue its century-long tradition of providing for the region’s frail elderly. "Seniors in Los Angeles depend on us for care. During COVID, ensuring their continued health and safety meant refraining from bringing people in. But now that 99 percent of our residents (as well as the large majority of our staff) has been fully vaccinated, we’re relaunching the admissions process so we can serve even more members of the community." The Home has immediate openings for seniors who need hands-on skilled nursing assistance. "The Jewish Home typically has wait lists for available spaces in our skilled nursing facility; it’s uncommon to have availability as we currently do," Surowitz says. "This represents a rare opportunity for people to get into the Home now, before we reach capacity, which will happen quickly." With the easing of the pandemic, the Jewish Home is also welcoming seniors to its Brandman Centers for Senior Care, a Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE). Through the program, residents and seniors who live on their own receive medical services, physical therapy, social services, and nutritional counseling, as well as exceptional adult day healthcare that engages them intellectually, physically, and socially. Applicants to the Jewish Home have access to a broad range of programs and services beyond PACE and skilled nursing. From short-term rehab to hospice, independent living, home health, and memory care, the Jewish Home provides support to residents at their varying levels of need. Through the Jewish Home, seniors are also eligible for the organization’s new Brandman Health Plan. Designed for the chronic patient with special needs, the plan offers benefits to anyone in Los Angeles County who is Medicare-eligible and has diabetes, chronic heart failure, cardiovascular disorders, or dementia. Seniors and their families can reach out to the Jewish Home for more information about current openings and availability. "We’re here for new applicants, whoever they are and whatever their needs," Surowitz says. "We look forward to learning how we can help."
Read More