Volunteer Role Description: Compassionate Companion


Name of volunteer program
: Compassionate Companions

Time required/duration of appointment: Minimum of four hours each week; flexible hours preferred

Location: MU Hospital, Palliative Care Nursing Unit or other location with palliative care patients – Columbia

General purpose:  Volunteers serving in this role provide the support and physical presence for palliative care patients and their families. The Mayo Clinic defines palliative care as specialized medical care that focuses on providing patients relief from pain and other symptoms of a serious illness, no matter the diagnosis or stage of disease. This form of care is offered alongside curative or other treatments. In some cases, family and friends of a loved one on palliative care need support themselves, including respite from the hospital room.

Primary responsibilities:

  • Be a calm presence; shared silence
  • Sit with patient
  • Talk and practice active listening
  • Provide healing touch under direction of health care team (e.g., gently put lotion on hand)
  • Read of inspirational text, scripture or other material
  • Provide/secure inspirational music
  • Communicate with health care team on patient needs and changes in condition


  • Ability to be vetted and accepted as MU Health Care Volunteer
  • Completion of Compassionate Companions training, provided by MU Health Care
  • Acknowledgment that one is at least six months past an immediate family or friend’s death.
  • Prior palliative or hospice care volunteer service helpful, but not required.
  • Familiarity with the dying process and be able to recognize when death is imminent.
  • Ability to be comfortable around death.
  • Ability to remain seated for extended periods of time.
  • Ability to maintain composure in stressful situations.
  • Ability to be completely available for the patient and their loved ones.

Benefits: Volunteers providing at least four hours of service each week are provided with a volunteer shirt, recognition at the annual recognition breakfast, free annual TB screening and flu shots. MU Student Volunteers who complete 100 hours and in good standing are provided with a Letter of Reference upon request.

Name and Title of Volunteer Supervisor
: Tammy Gillespie, Mgr., Volunteer Services

Contact information (Phone or Email): 573-882-4714 or

Questions? Contact MU Healthcare Volunteer Services at 573-882-4714 or email umhsvolunteersvcs@health.missouri.edu


MU Health Care — Volunteering Opportunities