Volunteers sought to help tell life stories

Otago Community Hospice co-ordinator of volunteers Rebecca Shaw (left) and biography service co...
Otago Community Hospice co-ordinator of volunteers Rebecca Shaw (left) and biography service co-ordinator Denise van Aalst are searching for volunteers to help hospice patients share their life stories. PHOTO: BECS WILSON
Supporting patients at Otago Community Hospice to tell their stories and share their thoughts is a fascinating privilege for the volunteers of the Hospice Biography Service.

Co-ordinated by registered nurse Denise van Aalst for the past 18 months, the Hospice Biography Service supports patients in creating a much-valued legacy for their families.

The service was greatly appreciated by patients, who generally enjoyed having someone to sit and listen, and help them to flesh out their stories, Mrs van Aalst said.

"The Biography Service is valued both by the patients and their families, who receive an important legacy," she said.

The service is provided by volunteers, who fulfil the role of interviewers, transcribers, and writers.

"People really enjoy being involved in the service — it is fascinating and a privilege to have people share their life stories with you."

The patient has the final say on what is included.

Since the biography service was founded many years ago, hundreds of biographies had been put together, giving families insight into the everyday lives of their loved ones.

Otago Community Hospice co-ordinator of volunteers Rebecca Shaw said the service had five active volunteers in Dunedin at present and a further eight in Central Otago.

"The numbers have dropped off a little recently - it’s part of the natural cycle of volunteering," Ms Shaw said.

The recent expansion of the hospice’s Kowhai programme, which provides education for people caring for loved ones, had resulted in an increased demand for the biography service and the need for more volunteers, she said.

"Our biography service is quite flexible, and we have volunteers from all walks of life and all ages - from students to retirees."

The Otago Community Hospice will hold an information evening for people interested in becoming volunteers, next Tuesday, February 16, from 5.30pm to 7pm at the Hunter Centre in Great King St.

For more details and to RSVP, phone the hospice on 473-6005 and ask for Rebecca.

Training days are planned for February 20 and 21.


Add a Comment







Our journalists are your neighbours

We are the South's eyes and ears in crucial council meetings, at court hearings, on the sidelines of sporting events and on the frontline of breaking news.

As our region faces uncharted waters in the wake of a global pandemic, Otago Daily Times continues to bring you local stories that matter.

We employ local journalists and photographers to tell your stories, as other outlets cut local coverage in favour of stories told out of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

You can help us continue to bring you local news you can trust by becoming a supporter.

Become a Supporter