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02 Volunteering in Partnership (VIP): Promoting compassion
  1. Gail Wilson,
  2. Kate Pyman and
  3. Sandy Knowles
  1. St Lukes Hospice Plymouth, Plymouth, England

Abstract

This DOH funded project aimed to increase the volunteering capacity and the personalisation agenda in 3 organisations which support those with long term conditions, the frail elderly and individuals who are at the end of life.

The project sought to create new volunteering opportunities for young people aged 16-18 by challenging the paternalistic and risk adverse attitudes of care providers who were reluctant to let young people volunteer with patients.

Project management methodology was used to deliver the project. The organisations held meetings with current staff/volunteers and literature was provided to explain the nature of the project and to answer any questions.

All VIPs received comprehensive training which promoted the values of compassion, dignity, communication skills and care supporting tasks, eg assisting people at mealtimes.

This first stage of the VIP project has been highly successful and has introduced young volunteers into areas that have not previously been available to them. The key outcome is that, with the right support and training, young people can make a very positive contribution to the personalisation agenda of caring and support. The feedback from staff, patients and the young people themselves has been very positive and they appreciate the employability benefits of being part of the VIP scheme.

The project has benefited the hospice in a number of ways, saving money and time eg escorting patients to health appointments etc. However, the wider gains have been the proactive engagement of the hospice in the local community, working with schools and colleges, supporting young people to gain employability skills. By creating volunteering opportunities for young people in these areas, stereotypical attitudes and perceptions can be changed as young people become more informed about how to support personalised, compassionate care for the elderly and dying.

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