The role of the hospice volunteer in community settings

Draper, Janet; Kernohan, George; McNamara, Aine and Komaromy, Carol (2014). The role of the hospice volunteer in community settings. In: Knowledge Exchange Seminar Series, 9 Feb 2014, Northern Ireland Assembly, Stormont, Belfast.



In the UK, there are between 70,000 and 100,000 hospice volunteers, of whom half have direct patient contact. This seminar draws on a commissioned literature review that highlighted how ‘volunteering is integral to voluntary action and often motivated by altruism.’ The review concluded that hospice at home volunteers can help improve the quality of responsiveness of end of life care, improve access to care and can support care and death in the person’s own home. Volunteers gain health and social benefits and personal growth from their volunteering and the patients and carers they support also gain benefits over and above the care they receive. Volunteers also bring benefits to the hospice as an organisation and to the local community, providing a link between the two and enabling the hospice to be more sensitive and responsive to local needs. The seminar will highlight further work that would seek to provide empirical, qualitative data on the role of the volunteer in two community settings, England and Northern Ireland, and would aim to explore the differences and similarities in these two community contexts.

For the purposes of this seminar the following definition of volunteering in end of life care is used:
‘volunteering in end of life care is unpaid activity conducted for the benefit of others beyond close relatives provided in connection to an organisation that provides end of life care, support or services.’ (Naylor et al. 2013, p.2).

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