Hospice Volunteer Requirements During The Pandemic and Accepting In-Person Donations | Track It Forward

Hospice Volunteers Meeting 5% During The Pandemic and Accepting In-Person Donations

Last updated by Kasey Murphy on 03/15/2021

Volunteer Coordinator Resource Community Weekly Recap - July 21-27

The Volunteer Coordinator Resource Community group on Facebook has generated a new resource and rule for hospice volunteer coordinators and managers. The Facebook Community is home to many different volunteer managers and programs, and around 100 members of the community are hospice volunteer managers. 

Hospice volunteer managers and coordinators are responsible for making sure that volunteers incorporate 5% of the total patient care hours. This law is in order from CMS - U.S. Medicare and Medicaid Services. But recently, CMS has noted that during the pandemic, the 5% law has been waived due to hospice volunteers being unable to perform volunteer tasks. Many hospice volunteers fall in the older category, which makes it difficult to volunteer in the pandemic. In addition, CMS mandates specific activities that can make up for the 5%. 

Both of these topics spiked a bit of conversation in the Facebook Community, as the waiving of the 5% law has not been a public service announcement so many hospice volunteer managers were still trying to get this amount of hours during the pandemic and struggling. Facebook post stating:

Check out the full Facebook post here. 

Some other hospice volunteers remarked that they felt the 5% would not be reenacted for a few years, and many commented to the volunteer manager who posted that the 5% was waived. Some worried that with the 5% waived, they would be furloughed. 

Here was some information and topics of conversation from the comments:

  • “I think there will be a reduced percentage next year. Volunteer programs will need to be rebuilt. I think we'll be busy recruiting, training, and retraining.”

  • “NHPCO put out a statement for volunteers that the 5% is excused for now.” and “The requirement has been suspended until pandemic is over.

  • “Yes, the 5% is waived right now but they should expand it to include what we CAN do right now! I’m doing window painting, parades, card making, bird feeder donations, and outdoor mini-concerts. I would be waaayyyy over my 5% if I could include all of these things!!!”

  • “I think this may be a chance to modernize the volunteer requirements. We're mostly past the days of volunteers answering phones and doing filing. It would be nice to be able to include all the different things volunteers can do to promote the mission and improve patient care.”

  • “Find out your avg hours to meet your 5% and a weekly phone call program to patients and their families was very successful. Min of 15 min per call + 1 hr a week of documentation for total calls. A monthly newsletter helps too. Medicare waived the 5% rule during COVID -19”

With some research, we were able to pull some resources that do, indeed showcase the waiving of the 5% law during the pandemic for hospice volunteer managers! 

Resources for Hospice Volunteer Managers: 

In-Person Donations During COVID-19

Some organizations rely on in-person donations in order for their organizations to succeed and produce the help that their mission sets out for. Check out some of the tips our community has come up with.How is everyone handling in-kind donations? It seems risky to accept donations so we’ve been trying to focus on Amazon wishlists but it doesn’t seem like we can keep people away from donating forever

Give your advice in the comments here.

Advice from the comments: 

  • “My organization provides clothing to homeless and impoverished children. example of donation pile We handle incoming donations with gloves and wash our hands in between donation drop-offs. We also have a system where incoming donations spend a week in a quarantine "mountain" before being processed. We have several mountains like the one shown, so that we are never pulling from a pile that was received recently. We didn't have enough space at our Volunteer & Donation Center, so a church down the street is loaning us space for 90 days so we can quarantine donations.”

  • “We also are scheduling donation drop-offs via SignUpGenius in 15-minutes intervals to avoid many donors arriving at the same time.”

  • “Our libraries place all returned books on a 72-hour quarantine before handling them.”

  • “We've been accepting "limited" availability drop offs or pickups (our donation coordinator handles these basing her decision on what we need, what we have room to store, her schedule, etc.) and let everything sit in our truck or someplace for at least 3 days before we handle it from there. Handwashing and masks are a given.”

Resources for Handling In-Person Donations: 

Volunteer Birthdays 

Celebrating or recognizing your volunteer’s birthday is a great way to give attention and recognition to volunteers, just a small way to show your appreciation. Depending on the organization, celebrations may not be feasible, due to large amounts of volunteers. So, how can you deliver a personal touch for a volunteer’s birthday? 

Volunteer Birthdays!

Hi everyone! We (my team and I) usually hand sign birthday cards for our volunteers and personally hand it to them. Unfortunately, we have not been able to keep up with that during these past few months because, well, you know. So I'm trying to think of something else to do (besides a virtual birthday card) to make their special day just a little more special.

What do you do to celebrate your volunteers' birthdays? TIA!

Let us know how you celebrate your volunteer's birthday here.

Answers from the comments: 

  • “If you don't have a huge number of volunteers, you can do social media birthday shout outs. We have almost 2500, so we only do that for their milestone birthdays. Otherwise, it's e-cards.”

  • “I designed a “card” on Canva and plan to send it through my email on their birthday.”

  • “Kudo boards are also a great option!”

  • “We took photos of the staff each holding a handmade happy birthday sign. I but them all together in a collage on the inside of a card I made on Canva”

  • “We have a birthday (and belated birthday) email template. We customize it for each person, including adding personalized pictures that include their name. We have about 400+ volunteers.”

  • “I call our more active volunteers, it's also a chance to have a brief conversation (assuming they answer!); if you have limited capacity, you could also have a leadership volunteer or board member do!”

Resources for Volunteer Birthday Ideas:

Volunteer Digital Marketing 

Many volunteers are capable of doing roles and providing expertise in multiple areas, including digital marketing and design! Question: Which FB groups or other online platforms (that don't cost money or are super low cost) are good for recruiting a volunteer digital marketing manager? Links are very much welcome in the comments to make it easier for me since I have my hands full being the ED of an early-stage nonprofit and being the volunteer coordinator plus loads more.

Do you have any advice? Comment here. 

Advice from the comments:

  • “I'm sending all potential volunteers to VolunteerMatch.org. They offer a free account. I have talked with many that are furloughed and looking to give back.”

  • “I would post to the college board, fraternities, and sororities. Also, the meetup would be super useful. Just target groups that are 20's-30's, perhaps the groups that are for networking. I bet you get interest.”

  • “I've used Facebook really successfully. Its the most popular platform where I recruit. 80% of residents use it. Check out the usage stats for you're area. I've spent sub $2000 over 4 years on advertising, which includes a website, socials(FB, Linkedin, insta, twitter), newsletters, and print. I have maintained around 60 regular volunteers in a pretty niche area. Community forestry.”

  • You can also double-check with local colleges, sometimes they offer courses where they want students to intern for credit, or even take on a task for a nonprofit as a class. 

Resources for Finding Digital Marketing Volunteers