Innovations in End-of-Life Care
an international journal of leaders in end-of-life care
Issues to Consider When Starting a Teen Hospice Program
by Sandra Mahood
The Hospice of the Florida Suncoast
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- Internal marketing: Be sure to market your ideas with hospice staff and adult volunteers before you start and continue to do so as you have success stories to share.
- Develop school and community partnerships by identifying needs in your community. Contact school coordinators of service clubs, magnet programs, and scholarships. Collaborate with local volunteer centers.
- Research possible local, state or national grants.
- Form an advisory committee of stakeholders. These include school leaders, youth agency staff, faith community leaders, nursing home administrators, key hospice staff, parents and teens. Seek their input on grant applications, program design, implementation and evaluation.
- Start a hospice teen council and give students an opportunity to develop leadership skills. Let them tell you how to recruit other teens, what makes training more "teen friendly" and the kinds of service experiences that are meaningful or fun for teenagers!
- Be flexible. Remember that their world and ours are quite different. You may need to call teens at night or on the weekend, to offer training classes on Saturday or Sunday and to allow (or even encourage) teens to volunteer in pairs or teams.
- Transportation may be a barrier for some teens. If the parents work and the teen doesn’t drive a car, getting to training, meetings and volunteer work becomes a real problem. Offer training classes and meetings on-site after school. Help connect students and their parents for car-pooling. Our nursing home program offers a convenient way for teens to volunteer close to home.
- Parents are often very involved in their child’s hospice experience. Many times we talk with parents at the time of intake and make every effort to address their concerns. We also include a "Parent/Guardian Consent" in the application forms that teens and their parents complete prior to training. This form addresses policies and procedures and asks the parent/guardian to sign a consent for the teen to volunteer and to sign a statement of confidentiality, as we recognize that teens often need to share their hospice experiences with a parent.
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