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Exciting Volunteer Opportunities
- Our Goals: As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, we spend only a small proportion of our funds on advocating for changing state laws; for instance, by contacting legislators. As our slogan indicates, our primary goal is "To help individuals plan end-of-life decisions that others will honor." Of course, one must be informed before one can plan; so we also conduct research and emphasize education. When we concern ourselves with the law, we intend to discuss rather than to campaign. While we help many people set the stage so that their Proxies will Permit Natural Dying if they suffer from Devastating Irreversible Brain States, as you can read in the Introduction to the book, The BEST WAY to Treat People Who Have Lost Their Minds: Shall Our Laws Permit Natural Dying?, the goal of this book is to provoke meaningful discussions.
- Why volunteer? The professional staff of Caring Advocates strives to make it possible for dying patients and their families to experience peaceful and meaningful transitions. Our staff believes the last chapter of life need not be a horrible, painful, wrenching experience. While we have much to offer, we need help to spread the message, to learn more, and to be there in person to apply what we know. For many of these functions, we depend on the generous efforts of volunteers. We seek individuals of various backgrounds and interests who are willing to devote their energy to different functions. In return, they can learn valuable techniques, share the experiences of life-transforming events, and fulfill this promise: "It is in the giving that we receive." Detailed descriptions of volunteer functions are provided below, however they may overlap and one individual can volunteer for more than one position. This principle holds true: Our everyday lives become more meaningful when we accept that we too will die someday. That's why we learn so much by helping the dying.
- Staff members you can contact: To explore how you can make your special contribution, contact Gary Wagner our Volunteer Coordinator, who oversees program-oriented work and Trusting Circles for Values Memoirs, or Dr. Stan Terman, our Medical Director, who oversees volunteers who work directly with patients and their families. Whatever specific ways you chose to contribute, the staff of Caring Advocates looks forward to your uniquely personal contribution to help us fulfill the mission of our organization: "To help individuals plan end-of-life decisions that others will honor." Talk to: Linda Meyers, Stan Terman, and/or Gary Wagner: Call 800 64 PEACE (647 3223)
- Seven different positions.
- Become a Caring Advocate Volunteer
- Become a Caring Advocate Research Assistant
- Become a Caring Advocate Educator
- Become a Caring Advocate Comforter
- Become a Caring Advocates Guard
- Become a Caring Advocate for Living Wills
- Become a Caring Advocate Proxy/Agent
Talk to: Linda Meyers, Stan Terman, and/or Gary Wagner: Call 800 64 PEACE (647 3223)
- Become a Caring Advocate Volunteer (CAV): To further the general mission of Caring Advocates. Apply your experience toward furthering our mission. Let us know how you'd like to help. These are just a few examples: Create and distribute literature, be an usher at a public event, or work on publicity and fundraising;
- Become a Caring Advocate Research Assistant (CARA): To increase our knowledge by learning what people DO and do NOT KNOW about Advance Directives, and what professionals and non-professionals DO and do NOT KNOW about Devastating Irreversible Brain States. Examples: Ask people to complete our questionnaires, and help us run focus groups. Students enrolled at colleges in such courses as Psychology Research Methods may request credit for working as an intern;
- Become a Caring Advocate Educator (CAE): To help spread the key messages of Caring Advocates, which are:
- Why Voluntary Refusal of Food & Fluid is the legal peaceful alternative to Physician-Assisted Suicide;
- Why we must have legally valid, clear and convincing, written Living Wills and Proxy Directives; and
- Why we should dialogue about changing our laws to presume those in Devastating Irreversible Brain States would want to Permit Natural Dying.
Examples: You might be an active or retired professional, an experienced public speaker, or a surviving family member who has a moving personal story to share. You may wish to lead educational programs using materials supplied by Caring Advocates, or you may wish to participate in panel discussions with other volunteers in programs led by the staff of Caring Advocates;
Note: Depending on the degree of responsibility when helping a dying person and their family, some volunteer roles require training and certification by Caring Advocates' professional staff; other roles require prior legal authorization by the patient when competent. (Note: Caring Advocates provides these services only to members.)
- Become a Caring Advocate Comforter (CAC): To demonstrate how to provide Comfort Care in the specific area of reducing thirst.
- Become a Caring Advocates Guard (CAG): To make sure that local Emergency Medical Technicians do NOT sabotage a patient's Last Wishes. For example, if someone were to call 911 when a patient falls asleep peacefully after Voluntarily Refusing Food & Fluid for a few days, a Caring Advocates Guard armed with a doctor-signed Physician's Order for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST), can serve as a guard, to decline any attempt to resuscitate the heart and lungs, and any attempt to rehydrate the patient. In California, for patients at home in some counties, the CAG can be armed only with a Pre-Hospital Do Not Resuscitate order signed by a physician.
- Become a Caring Advocate for Living Wills (CALW): To add the power of a personal advocate to the written words of a patient's Living Will.
- Become a Caring Advocate Proxy/Agent (CAP): To provide decision-making authority at a future time when critical choices about life-sustaining treatment must be made, after considering relevant input from those people specifically mentioned in the patient's Proxy Directive, including the patient's physician, key family members and friends, attorneys, and religious, spiritual, and psychological counselors.
Need: Caring Advocates believes that the experience of Voluntary Refusal of Food & Fluid can be peaceful as long as thirst is reduced, so we provide, at our cost, a Thirst Reducing Aid Kit (TRAK) to all Caring Advocate members who request it. Each kit contains written instructions, and soon Caring Advocates hopes to also offer an instructional video; however there is no substitute for a human presence to demonstrate how these items can be used. Caring Advocate Comforters can show how family members and close friends, who may feel frustrated by not being able to offer nurturing in the way our culture does for healthy people, how they can provide this kind of loving care. For patients who must be alone at times, a trained CAC can provide this type of Comfort Care.
Note: The staff of Caring Advocates considers hospice the most qualified institution to provide general Comfort Care and refers our members to them. Caring Advocate Comforters focus specifically on thirst control. Caring Advocates professionals are available by phone so members can call us for advice. Updated information is available at www.thirstcontrol.com.
Caring Advocates Guards also strive to achieve this goal: No one should die alone.
Need: In theory, Living Wills could speak for themselves, but they are merely pieces of paper and thus may require a human spokesperson to place the written document in the hands of the treating physician and to insist that they respect the patient's Last Wishes. That way, it will be very unlikely that the treating physician will ignore a member's Living Will.
Training and support: Instruction on the legal ramifications of Living Wills; advice on handling various situations as they arise, by phone.
Examples: Ask the patient's physician if she or he has read the patient's Living Will and placed it in her chart; has considered its terms, specifically whether the doctor agrees that the IF conditions now apply, and is now willing to follow the patient's stated Then wishes about treatment preferences.
If the Caring Advocate for Living Wills believes there is a conflict between the physician's treatment plan and the patient's Last Wishes, the Caring Advocate for Living Wills can ask for an opinion from a second physician, a psychologist or psychiatrist, or the institution's bioethics committee.
Need: As we get older, there will be fewer people available to serve as our Proxy (Agent) who are willing to energetically advocate our Last Wishes using the Substituted Judgment standard (making decisions based on what they know about our beliefs and preferences).
The role of Caring Advocate Proxy/Agent is best carried out after prior in-depth discussions with the patient when the patient possessed the capacity to make medical decisions. Designating additional individuals to serve as alternate Proxies in a specified sequence after known family members and close friends is prudent. Members of Caring Advocates may find individuals to serve as alternates by joining a Trusting Circle for Proxy Directives. In special situations, the staff of Caring Advocates may agree to be designated as a member's Caring Advocate Proxy/Agent (CAP).
Training and support: Proxy Directives must be diligently crafted with strategies designed to overcome potential challenges. This topic is discussed in detail in The BEST WAY to Say Goodbye: A Legal Peaceful Choice at the End of Life. The staff of Caring Advocates can provide advice on handling various situations as they arise, by phone.
General note: Volunteers may have more than one role, and some roles may merge. Restrictions may apply depending on state laws. Sometimes, the staff of Caring Advocates can only provide an informal second opinion to a licensed professional who resides in the member's home state or country.
Note: Members of Caring Advocates may wish to provide additional legal standing to Caring Advocates Guards, Caring Advocates for Living Wills or Caring Advocate Proxy/Agent by signing a notarized form to authorize the volunteer appointed by them or by Caring Advocates staff as their spokesperson in the stated capacity.