Journey Home Singers
“You don’t know the gift you are giving”
“We all felt blessed to be part of this beautiful connection”
“Music touches the heart and mind in a way that words cannot”
The Journey Home singers of Cooley Dickinson have been bringing songs of peace and comfort to our hospice and hospital patients since 2011. Comprised of approximately 30 volunteer members, we travel in small, four-part a cappella groups throughout the Pioneer Valley to bring moments of joy to families, and help make our patients’ end-of-life transitions as comfortable and respectful as possible.
Specially trained in the art of singing for hospice and hospital patients, we tailor our selections to patients’ musical preferences, and to their physical and spiritual needs. We sing for hospice patients in their homes and in skilled nursing facilities, as well as to patients at Cooley Dickinson Hospital. Our singers are trained in the hospice approach to care, confidentiality and conduct.
What to Expect at a Sing
When we are invited to sing for a patient, we typically visit in groups of 4-8 singers. Family, friends and caregivers are all welcome. Songs are selected after a brief phone conversation to determine what would best fit our patients’ needs.
Our musical repertoire includes sacred music from different traditions, spirituals, lullabies, hospice music, a few golden oldies and songs in other languages. Our singers blend gently to provide as peaceful and uplifting an experience as possible.
How to Join/Volunteer for Journey Home
If you are interested in joining Journey Home, you are welcomed to visit our practices to learn more about our approach. Sensitivity to the sacred time preceding death, musical ability, and availability to come when needed are necessary components for any singing volunteer. Acceptance of new members is based on our needs for particular voice parts and a person’s ability to sing in tune and hold their own part with other parts. Singers who sing at bedside must be certified. The path to certification includes the following: 1) attending some practice sessions; 2) interview/audition with music directors; 3) fill out application (can be downloaded here or obtained from volunteer coordinator; 4) attend a training session with the Hospice Volunteer Coordinator and complete paperwork; 5) obtain a health screening at the hospital for TB screening, immunization records and proof of flu shot 6) make a one-year commitment to the group with an expectation of rehearsing twice per month, and participating in at least one sing a month and 7) receive access to an official practice book. Once certified, Journey Home singers receive a Hospice badge.
Read an informative article on Journey Home that appeared on MassLive, January 2015.