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Martinsburg VA Medical Center


Helping Veterans with a Silver Spoon

Hospice Volunteers Christine Printy (left), and Joyce Miller (right) practice thickening liquids during their recent Silver Spoons feeding training.

Hospice Volunteers Christine Printy (left), and Joyce Miller (right) practice thickening liquids during their recent Silver Spoons feeding training.

By Lauren Winebrenner
Thursday, March 14, 2019

“If you cannot feed 100 people, then just feed one” – Mother Theresa 

The Martinsburg VA Medical Center (VAMC) has a wide variety of programs to care for and serve Veterans. Sometimes those programs are multi-faceted and complex, such as our patient aligned care team models, and other times it’s something as seemingly simple as providing feeding assistance to our Veterans in long-term care units.

Recently, Education Learning Resources Service (ELRS) hosted an on-site training for volunteers interested in becoming feeding assistants. The “Silver Spoons” class teaches volunteers about communication, difficulty swallowing, modified diets and infection control procedures. At the end of the four-hour training, learning is evaluated via a written test and return demonstration of feeding skills by program participants

To date, the medical center has trained approximately 20 volunteers  and current employees with this program. The majority of the hospice volunteers are trained with the Silver Spoon program, which allows them to socialize, form connections and provide a service to Veterans.

“The program is for Veterans who are physically or mentally impaired and require assistance with feeding,” said Lynne Hess, RN, Clinical Educator and Silver Spoons class coordinator. “It further ensures that there are enough resources (staff and volunteers), so that Veterans who are unable to feed themselves have their nutritional needs met in a timely manner.”

Silver Spoon volunteers are not there in lieu of staff care and do not feed high-risk patients; but the program can help supplement and provide for Veterans when appropriate. Many Veterans enjoy the personal level of care and attention and forming bonds with the Volunteers. 

“I want to give back to our Veterans, as I’m a very proud Army Veteran,” said Joyce Miller, hospice volunteer. “This is another way to help the staff and the Veteran. All Veterans are part of my family and you always take care of family.”

Classes are hosted on an as-requested basis and are open to employees as well as volunteers. For more information contact Lynne Hess, RN at 304-263-0811, ext. 2895.

For information about other volunteer opportunities at the Martinsburg VA Medical Center, please contact Voluntary Service at 304-263-0811, ext. 3310/3309.



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