In today’s world we hear about so many people who expect so much from others—from the government, from their communities, even from their churches. Our perceptions of a world full of “takers” makes it even more notable when one comes across a person who finds her greatest joy in giving to others. Faye Sparkman is just such a person, and Hospice of the Valley is proud to have her on their team.
Sparkman became a member of the Hospice of the Valley family in May of 2003, and ever since has been caring for patients and their families while inspiring those fortunate enough to work alongside of her. Hospice of the Valley provides end-of-life care as well as grief and bereavement services to residents of Morgan and Lawrence Counties. Services provided include nursing care, home health aides, medical equipment and supplies, support from social workers and chaplains, and—of course—volunteers.
Whether they answer phones, work with children’s bereavement groups, or coordinate fundraising events, volunteers are a vital part of Hospice of the Valley and they play a crucial role in helping people on the most difficult journey they will ever have to make. Patient care volunteers visit patients in their homes, in nursing homes and assisted living facilities, and in the hospital. Depending on the needs of the patient and family, volunteers can provide companionship to patients or respite care for weary caregivers.
Upon completing her training as a volunteer, Sparkman chose to enter the area of patient care. As a former nurse with 40 years of experience working in hospitals and doctors’ offices, she is willing to sped time with patients that many would find difficult to care for, never hesitating to step in and help out in the most demanding of situations. Sparkman has cared for patients with cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, heart failure, and Lou Gehrig’s disease, sometimes where challenging family circumstances are also present.
While the standard workload for most patient care volunteers is one patient per week, Faye typically visits with to and sometimes even three patients each week. She willingly drives long distances—sometimes over 200 miles in one month—to sit with patients in heartbreaking circumstances either to provide the patient with companionship or the patient caregiver with a brief respite from care giving. Never one to refuse extra assignments, Sparkman is reluctant to take a break from her Hospice work, even to go on vacation.
Sparkman provides tender loving care to her patients, holding hands, brushing hair, applying lotion, and painting fingernails. She brings a smile to the faces of many patients and families as she walks into their homes, even if it is for the very first time. Sparkman takes advantage of her volunteer work to help in her 40-year struggle with clinical depression.