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hospicevolunteers 2013 2

At La Maison de Tara hospice volunteers are not an 'add on' but are at the very heart of their activities.  Without them the hospice could not exist. Volunteer work in the house includes simple patient support (feeding, companionship, changing soiled linen), providing support to families (this is often a big part of what we do) and generally being willing to help out with whatever is required.  A volunteer session lasts 5 hours and there are 3 per day: 8–13.00, 12.30–17.30 and 17.00-22.00.  The half hour overlap is to give a transmission of what has taken place in the house to the incoming team.   

A new (third) training course for English-speaking volunteers will begin in February 2014.  It will take place on one Saturday per month over a period of a year (see exact dates below). Volunteers receive over 100 hours of training in basic knowledge, practical knowhow and in 'how to be' with themselves, with residents and their families. Training is given by in-house and external people with deep experience of their subject. After completing the first three days of the course, it is possible to sign up for volunteer sessions in the house as a trainee, in parallel with the formal monthly course.

Training structure:
The programme starts with modules on learning how to be: the capacity to care emotionally and spiritually for patients, their families and loved ones.  Further modules cover infectious disease, hygiene, patient transfer, manipulation of wheelchairs and beds, patient positioning and relaxing massage.  Finally there are modules on palliative care covering:  illness, the ageing process, pain control, the death process, experiencing grief and ethics.  

The training is open to anyone wishing to become a volunteer.  It involves a lot of small group and pair exercises and profound discussions of topics that some participants can find difficult for many reasons.  The hospice is looking for mature, psychologically stable and friendly people who are able to cope when times are busy and who also understand that at times the house may be quiet but that a presence is still needed.  Volunteers need to have at least basic conversational French and enjoy working in a team.  The hospice requires a commitment of at least one year’s volunteering at La Maison de Tara in return for the training.  

hospicevolunteers 2013
For those who complete the course there are many personal rewards.  As one volunteer wrote in her evaluation form: "It enabled me to deal with my personal issues and to deal better with life in general.  The practices also enabled us to put ourselves in the residents' shoes and to know how to cope with certain situations".  See the Tara website 'Volunteers' (address below) for more feedback and information.  

The training is free of charge although participants are asked to make a voluntary contribution towards its costs (administration, photocopies, tea/coffee, a small gift for visiting teachers, etc.) if they are able.  

Place and dates:  
The training will be held at La Maison de Tara, 79 chemin de la Montagne, 1224 Chêne-Bougeries, from 10.00 – 16.30 on the following Saturdays:

2014:  l Feb, 1 March, 29 March, 12 April, 17 May, 14 June, 20 Sept, 11 Oct, 8 Nov, 6 Dec.

Further information
Further general information about volunteering at La Maison de Tara can be found on the website www.lamaisondetara.ch.  For specific questions or to sign up for the course please contact:  Daphne Fresle (tel: 022 348 8666, email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).