This is a volunteer group for the Song Tang Hospice in Beijing. The Song Tang Hospice was founded in 1990 and is dedicated to the care of the terminally ill.
We organise trips to visit the hospice every two weeks, to meet with the patients and children staying there.
What to expect?
Our visits typically last for around 2 hours (2:30-4:30pm). After which, the nurses have to feed and medicate the patients, so we will need to leave.
During a typical visit, we will meet with patients in our assigned rooms - there are around 8 patients per room and our group has been assigned 2 rooms. We also often purchase fruit/food and distribute them to the patients. Some patients still have cognitive abilities and are happy to chat with us, while others are unable to speak but are aware of their surroundings. These patients just require a kind presence to sit with them and provide them with some much needed physical contact (e.g. holding their hand, brushing their hair, etc). So, there are many ways you can help even if you can't speak Chinese or are not a very talkative person.
Benefits of becoming a hospice volunteer?
A number of people have expressed anxiety over working with the elderly and terminally ill before joining this group, which is completely understandable. It can be overwhelming and a bit scary for people sometimes to be involved with this type of work, but many volunteers also reported finding hospice work personally gratifying, intellectually stimulating, and emotionally meaningful to assist those in need at such a critical point in their lives.
Personally, I feel hospice work is not about dying, but about living. Below is some information from the Hospice Volunteer Association regarding the benefits many of their volunteers have reported after participating in this kind of work:
Hospice volunteers say that being intimately involved with another person's death gives them a greater appreciation for life. Some say it makes them more grateful and less susceptible to getting ruffled over life's smaller hassles such as long lines and traffic jams.
Hospice volunteers report having a deep sense of satisfaction in being there for someone during a scary time of life. They feel like they are making a significant contribution to the community and providing a service they hope others would offer to them, were they in need.
Some hospice volunteers say it helps them come to terms with their own mortality and promotes emotional and spiritual growth. Others appreciate the closeness they develop with the patients and the opportunity to witness what is typically a very private moment. Providing hospice care can also help the volunteers learn how to deal with similar situations occurring in their own lives when a beloved family member or friend is facing death.
Like those who volunteer for other causes, hospice volunteers say they feel like they're making a difference and doing so is very fulfilling, giving added purpose to their lives. Moreover, helping people through the dying process keeps the volunteers focused on what's really important in their own lives.
Some become volunteers after watching their parents, spouses, siblings or close friends die and want to honor them by providing this service. But no matter the reason that draws volunteers to hospice work, they all say it helps keep life in perspective.
How to get there?
By bus: along Chang'an Avenue bus switch 728, get off Yangzha West Station, walk overpass, northbound across the road, that is, driving, go down east with Jing Tong Expressway, exit the Huicun Toll, U-turn under the bridge, the second bridge that is.
By subway: ride line 1 to Shuang Qiao station and take exit B. When you walk out of the exit you will be directly under Shuang Qiao bridge. From here, take an immediate right, cross the road, then take a right again (so you should be facing east at this point). Walk straight along the main road (going eastward, if you walk past a) until you come to a footbridge (about 300 metres down the road), at the bottom steps of the footbridge, you will see a large red metal gate on your left. This is the main entrance for the hospital. Walk through this red metal gate and you will see the hospital on your left. Go inside and we will be waiting there in the main lobby.
The hospital can be a bit tricky to find, so if you prefer, we can meet at Shuang Qiao subway stop (exit B) beforehand and we can walk over together. It's about a 15 minute walk to the hospital, so we normally meet at 2pm at the subway station. If you want to walk over together, best to RSVP and leave a message stating that you want to meet us at the subway station and also leave your phone number so we can get in touch in case you get lost.
Contact: Phil 18612788833 or Billy 13910643464 (please send an SMS first)