A serious illness forces us to come to terms with issues that we would rather not think about. Patients in hospitals and nursing homes often have no one to talk to about such issues; no one to listen to their hopes and fears. The Adventures in Caring Raggedy Program meets this need with a good listener and a friendly face at the patient’s bedside.
The typical Raggedy volunteer is an undergraduate student with plans for a career in health care, who has made a year-long commitment to visit the seriously ill, injured, or dying for two hours a week.
At first glance, most people think that the Raggedy Program is for children, yet it has proven effective with patients of all ages. Raggedy Ann & Andy are safe characters. They don’t prod or poke, give advice, or deliver bad news. They are non-judgmental, so people feel safe to share what is on their mind. Even small-talk can be a welcome distraction from pain, but speaking freely about the difficult emotions and issues that accompany a serious illness, is a rare opportunity, especially for patients who have no support from family and friends.
Raggedys have learned how to communicate with the seriously ill. They skillfully deliver four life-affirming gifts that all patients and their families need:
Attention — noticing the signs, signals and clues that indicate what is most important to the patient or their family, so they feel heard.
Acknowledgment — letting patients and family members know that they are appreciated as unique individuals so they feel respected.
Affection — extending the human touch of warmth, comfort, humor and kindness so patients feel connected with the people in whose care they place their lives.
Acceptance — accepting people as they are so patients feel safe to make new choices and to participate in their healing process.
Presently, Raggedys visit seventeen hospitals and nursing homes on a weekly basis all year round, primarily in Santa Barbara county. They also visit the sick in three other states.