Expansion of Comfort Zone with Volunteering and Needs

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Human beings not only seek happiness but they also seek comfort, acquired from different things such as comfort foods or receiving a hug from a loved one. Comfort can make a person feel safe, relaxed, and in a tranquil state of mind. Comfort can be obtained and experienced in two different ways: physically and psychologically. A person experiencing high levels of pain might take pain medication to alleviate the pain; in this example pain medication is helping a person feel physically comfortable again. Having a home to sleep in and food in the fridge are things that can bring comfort to a person; in this example not having to worry about basic life necessities is psychologically comforting. Additionaly, Coelho et al. (2016) add that there are additional characteristics of human life that comfort also applies to; psychospiritual, environmental, and social. When people aren’t comfortable they can’t perform or feel their best and discomfort experienced by mental or physical suffering can significantly impact a person’s overall well-being.

The concept of comfort or comfort care is very critical for patients in hospice care that are nearing the end of life. The purpose of hospice care is not to delay death or to make it come more quickly but to make the remaining days as comforting as possible, this was the mission of Hoffmann Hospice. A collaborative care team consisting of nurses, spiritual counselors, social workers, physicians and several others worked together to provide services in their specific area of skill dependent on the patient’s wishes. Some patients requested comfort from physical pain, emotional health, spiritual needs, or simply everyday tasks such as cleaning up. My role as a volunteer played a significant role in providing comfort to the patients I had the chance to interact with. Many were experiencing a great deal of pain, psychological issues such as anxiety and depression, and low mobility. I often struggled with patients that could no longer hear, walk, or talk. Nevertheless, being a companion to my patients had plenty of mental and physical benefits for them.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Need

Humans are driven by specific needs to be able to survive and flourish in society. Although these needs vary from person to person, the categories of needs are universal across the human species and around the world. In 1943 psychologist Abraham Maslow introduced the theory, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, an approach to explain and understand human motivation. According to Carpenito-Moyet (2003, pg. 4) employers have also applied Maslow’s theory to their employees to understand their motivations and increase performance in the workplace. The theory contains a hierarchy of five needs: physiological, safety, belongingness and love, esteem, and self-actualization. Physiological needs are needs that are crucial for survival such as food, air, and water. When we are safe we are protected from harms and danger, examples of safety needs are things such as financially stability, secure resources, and good health. Love and belongingness needs are necessities to feel loved and connected to other people by creating family, friend, and romantic relationships. Esteem needs are needs that fulfill the desire for people to feel accepted, recognized, and respected by others. Lastly, self-actualization needs are aspirations to be the best person one can become. This allows people to reach their maximum potential by the ability to be mindful, accepting who we are, and focusing on ourselves. All levels in the hierarchy must be completed in a specific order beginning with our most basic needs physiological, followed by safety, belongingness and love, esteem, and ultimately self-actualization.

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In the process of aging our ability to fulfill our needs and our motivations can change significantly as we are growing both physically and mentally. At my placement site I was primarily working with elderly patients that resided in assisted living facilities and directly observed these changes. Countless patients ended up at these senior living centers because they were no longer able to take care of themselves and their day to day basic needs. My placement site helped in fulfilling the patients’ physiological needs by making sure that they received their meals (assistance with feeding if needed), clean clothing, and nurse oversight to get proper rest. A large number of patients were medically insured or had some form of health insurance to cover the costs of staying at assisted living facilities, pain medication, hospice etc.…this satisfied a patients safety needs because having insurance provided financial security. The assisted living facilities conducted daily events such as worship services, coffee breaks, movies, and socials to encourage patients to feel included and stay connected with other patients. In this sense, staff went above and beyond to fulfill the patient’s belonging and love needs. Patients’ played an essential role in decision making for their own care plan. This allowed the patient to feel recognized, respected and in charge of their life thus satisfying patient’s esteem needs. Finally, through conversation with patients I realized those that had reached self-actualization were well connected to themselves, confident, and open to change versus those that often criticized themselves and the failures in their life. In summary, my placement site allowed me to transfer the knowledge I obtained from comprehension of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory and see how it is implemented in senior living facilities.

Hospice Volunteers

Hospice volunteers play an integral role in providing end of life care to patients even at times when family or friends are not available to help. Although volunteers don’t share the same relationship as close family or friends do, they are trained to assist in improving the quality of care each patient receives. Volunteers vary in ages, culture, and come from different backgrounds. They support hospice organizations and patients in different ways such as providing administrative services, bereavement support, in-patient and home care. Without the help of volunteers, hospice homes often struggle to meet the demands of all of their patients and organizational needs.

People opt to volunteer for a variety of different reasons such as giving back to the community, personal satisfaction, or to stay active. Nissim et al. (2016) conducted a study to investigate the relationship and changes between volunteer motivations and satisfaction levels over the course of their time at a residential hospice. The authors also sought to explore levels of death anxiety. In June 2012 all volunteers of Kensington Hospice in Toronto, Canada were invited to participate in the study that was conducted over the course of six months. To collect data, anonymous online surveys were sent at baseline and six months later at follow up. Results indicated that altruism was the main motivator to volunteer and motivation remained steady throughout the volunteers’ time at the hospice home. Additionally, survey response scales revealed that volunteer satisfaction increased from baseline to follow up. Younger volunteers reported higher levels of death anxiety compared to older volunteers but overall fear of death decreased for participants from baseline to follow up. The results from this study suggest that overall; volunteers had a positive experience from volunteering that for most stemmed from the ability to help others. Another benefit of volunteering is that it helped in coping with death anxiety and feeling more comfortable with emotions.

I could relate to the article in several ways beginning with the main reason why I chose to help the patients at Hoffmann Hospice, altruistic values. I continued to stay motivated throughout my applied experience because I saw how my time at Hoffmann Hospice made a positive difference and improved the life of others. I also experienced increased satisfaction there due to all the continuous positive feedback that I received from my coordinator and patients. I also observed how the organization values my time and effort and that of many other volunteers. One area that increased was my levels of death anxiety; I believe this is because I have not found a way to deal with it and/or have not received enough training. With more time and exposure I have confidence that I will find a way to deal with emotions. Nonetheless, this journey did not end prematurely as I will continue to support the organization beyond this applied experience.

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Expansion of Comfort Zone with Volunteering and Needs. (2020, November 11). WritingBros. Retrieved October 3, 2022, from https://writingbros.com/essay-examples/expansion-of-comfort-zone-with-volunteering-and-needs/
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