Care Partners Volunteer Program
Care Partners is a unique volunteer program only available at the University of Minnesota Amplatz Children's Hospital and the University of Minnesota Medical Center. Care Partners provides support and encouragement to pediatric bmt and hematology/oncology patients and their family members, whatever the outcome of their treatment. Volunteers provide non-medical resources, support and encouragement to families at a tremendously difficult time in their lives.
Care Partners has a staff of two and approximately 130 volunteers. Volunteers are screened, interviewed, well-trained and supported. The training is intense, covering needed medical information, listening skills, confidentiality, the psychosocial issues of a life threatening disease in a child and practical/protocol issues of interacting with the patient.
Programs for Kids and Families
- The Family Volunteer Program assigns a volunteer to one family at a time to support that family throughout their course of treatment in Minneapolis. These volunteers slide into the role of "almost best friend" of the patient and family. The bond is formed quickly because of the crucial need. Family volunteers support you in a variety a ways by making and bringing meals, picking up friends and family at the airport, staying with the patient, being with parents during procedures, doing errands, often just listening.
- The Unit Volunteer Program consists of volunteers who work a four hour shift each week on the hospital unit. Volunteers stay with patients so that parents can take a break, eat a meal, rest, or run errands. These volunteers also provide activities such as playing games, doing craft activities, reading stories, watching movies together, or just being with the child as a companion. Unit Volunteers can also assist with siblings who may be visiting.
- The Clinic Volunteer Program offers volunteers who provide a variety of art and craft activities for patients and their siblings during outpatient clinic visits. In addition to keeping the children occupied and happy, this service allows parents to talk with doctors alone.
In addition to volunteers, Care Partners provides notary services to families upon request as well as complimentary newspapers, new books, and Care Bags. Upon admittance to the hospital, Care Bags are presented to pediatric bmt and hematology/oncology patients. Through the generous donations from the community, welcome bags contain program materials, CCRF newsletters, visitor guides, neighborhood support services with maps, phone cards, toiletries, snacks, toys, games, craft kits, t-shirts, and special items based on the particular interest of the patient.
Volunteers and Donations Needed
While Care Partners is funded by Children's Cancer Research Fund
, the program needs funding directed specifically to Care Partners. (Checks can be made out to: Care Partners.) Dollars are used for special items and programs for patients and families. In addition to funding, we are always looking for volunteers who truly want to make a difference by what they do.
A long-time volunteer, Robbie, remarked that during her training session in 1988, Dr. Mark Nesbitt told the group "If you do this work, your life will never be the same." "How right he was," Robbie said, "I'm still doing the work, and of course we all know how it changes our lives in wonderful and deep ways."