The Horizon Health Network is attempting to find new ways to attract volunteers to help in palliative care wards.

In New Brunswick, there are more than 4,000 hospital volunteers, but at the Saint John Regional Hospital there are no evening shifts of volunteers in the palliative care ward.

A one-day workshop is being held on Friday to help train potential volunteers, who could come in and spend time with terminal patients and their families.

Elizabeth Cormier will be broadcasting a training session across the province on Friday for potential palliative volunteers.


Ina Mortimer, centre, has volunteered in the palliative care ward for 25 years. (CBC)

This is the first time the training will be offered via teleconferencing.

Cormier said she is hoping to be able to offer the training more frequently because she can reach more people than she could by travelling between cities.

Cormier said so far 70 people have already signed up for the teleconference training.

She said she understands the importance of volunteers spending time with patients in the palliative care ward.

Cormier spent days with her dying mother and she remembers the role a hospital volunteer played during the time.

"I drove back to the hospital and ran up the stairs and stopped in my tracks and saw one of my volunteers sitting beside my mother holding her hand. And she was calm and she was relaxed and he wasn't doing anything special, just being present," she said.

"And to me, that was huge. It had a profound effect on me, and the way I feel about volunteers and the work they do."

The volunteer training offered by the health authority will include an introduction to palliative care, education on death, dying and grief and the development of communication and support skills.

Ina Mortimer has been volunteering on the palliative care floor for 25 years. She said it has been 25 years of tears, joy and a lot of memories.

Mortimer recalled a time when her husband was asked to play in a wedding on the floor.

"Jim played, 'Here Comes the Bride' and they wheeled her bed into the living room and the pastor performed the ceremony, lots of smiles and tears both," Mortimer said.

"Sadly, she didn't live very long after that, but she had her last wish."

With an ever increasing demand on hospital nurses, Mortimer said it's the volunteers who have time to sit and listen to patient.