A preference model for sustainable hospice volunteering

Watts, Jacqueline H. (2013). A preference model for sustainable hospice volunteering. In: 10th Asia Pacific Hospice Conference, 10-13 Oct 2013, Bangkok, Thailand.

URL: http://aphc2013.com/


In many hospices volunteers are an essential resource in service provision contributing to a range of activities designed to support terminally ill people and their families. A number of models have been developed to make hospice volunteering sustainable and valuable for patients and volunteers. This paper discusses a preference model that responds to the skills and preferences of volunteers resulting in beneficial personal and organisational outcomes.
The aims of the research were to explore the experience of hospice volunteering and to identify motivations of hospice volunteers together with any education, training and support needs.
Materials & methods
Research, conducted in an English hospice, used qualitative methods of a focus group and semi-structured interviews for data collection. This was a small-scale pilot study to inform the design of a larger research project involving a number of UK hospices. Full consent procedures were followed and data were thematically analysed.
Hospice volunteering is a collaborative enterprise and seems to function best when volunteers are able to undertake roles most suited to their skills, occupational background and preferences. This results in continuity and further skill development and engenders high levels of commitment on the part of volunteers.
The roles undertaken by volunteers of emotional comforter, spiritual supporter, palliative caregiver and therapeutic healer appear to play an important role in patients’ psychosocial well being, with their work representing a division of ‘healing’ labour. Full recognition of these roles is proposed as a starting point for stronger collaboration between volunteers and hospices.

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