Volunteer activity in end–of-life care: a national survey of current practice
Introduction Specialised end-of-life care supports patients and families during the last months of life and, in the UK, is commonly provided either in a hospice or in a patient's home. Demand for such care in the UK will increase with mortality rates predicted to rise from 2012 to 2030 by 17%. The precise number and contribution of volunteers is unknown. However, it is estimated that there are over 100,000 volunteers working in UK hospices and that their contribution reduces costs by around 25%. The current economic situation is likely to limit funding. This means it is essential that we understand where volunteers are currently deployed to enable planning to be based on real practice.
Aims and Methods Focusing on volunteers in direct contact with patients and families this survey seeks to establish the extent of volunteer activity in UK end-of-life specialised care. A web-based nationwide survey of end-of-life care organisations, targeted at over 200 managers of volunteer services, including managers of hospices and home care teams.
Results The results, which will be available, will be analysed using descriptive statistics. They will give an overview of volunteer involvement in supporting patients and families in end-of-life care, detailing aspects volunteers are involved in and establishing which services are often volunteer-led.
Conclusion This will be the first UK-wide survey of its kind. It will highlight where further evaluation and development should be focused.
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