A Washington woman is hoping to bring a program to Franklin County that will ensure that no one will be left on their deathbed alone.
Becky Joseph, a faith community registered nurse, is working to bring No One Dies Alone to hospitals, nursing homes, hospice care and homes.
No One Dies alone was started by a nurse in Oregan after one of her patients passed away by himself, with no family or other nurses around. Now, the program pairs up compassionate companions to people within the final hours of their life, using complete confidentiality.
“Usually, the program is hospital-based,” said Joseph. “My goal is to make it community- and faith-based with volunteers from all different faith-based communities.”
Joseph says she gained interest in the program after sitting with both of her parents in their final moments.
“I have a real heart for end-of-life issues. No one should ever have to die alone,” she said. “A little more selfishly, I don’t want to die alone. I don’t have any kids and my sister is older than me so there is a potential that I could be alone.
“I feel like if I do this, then maybe there will be someone there for me.”
Joseph plans to have those wishing to be a compassionate companion go through a half-day orientation training session and then a monthly support group, if they so choose.
The volunteers will be put on a rotating schedule, according to their availability and commitment level. These volunteers will then sit with people in their final hours and provide a healing presence through touch, talk, prayers, music and whatever else the person may want.
“It’s to provide comfort and companionship so that someone doesn’t feel like no one is there for them,” said Joseph. “I really can’t imagine anything worse than being alone when you die. Having that presence there can probably ease a lot of suffering.”
The program is open to anyone over the age of 21, though Joseph says the people who make the best compassionate companion is someone who is not anxious about death.
The only cost will be $25 for a volunteer workbook. In addition, volunteers will need to take a tuberculosis test and a background check.
Those wishing to be volunteers can attend one of two informational meetings — Thursday, Aug. 3, from 10-11:30 a.m. at the Scenic Regional Library in Union, or Thursday, Aug. 10, from 6:30-7:30 p.m. at the Washington Public Library.
For more information call Becky Joseph at 636-583-4504 or email at NODAofFC@yahoo.com