Article Text

  1. M Hill1,
  2. N Ockenden1,
  3. S Morris2 and
  4. S Payne2
  1. 1Institute for Volunteering Research, UK
  2. 2International Observatory on End of Life Care, Lancaster University, UK


    Introduction The Volunteer Management in Palliative Care (VMPC) survey (67% response rate) revealed that 32% of hospices that involve volunteers do so within their home care service. This is considerably lower than in day care (90%), bereavement (79%) or inpatient care (74%). Moreover, community volunteering is considerably more developed in some other countries.

    Aim(s) and method(s) The paper aims to assess the impact of volunteering within community care and explore challenges and opportunities for expanding its role by drawing on data from the VMPC project which engaged 205 staff, volunteers, patients and relatives in primarily face-to-face individual interviews across eleven in-depth organisational case studies.

    Results As well as their time, the evidence shows that volunteers make substantial distinctive contributions to community care outcomes underpinned by their unique relationship with patients, relatives and the community. Substantial good practice learning included the need for specialist training and induction sessions; more flexible and comprehensive remote and contact management mechanisms to ensure volunteers are emotionally and practically supported; developing clear guidelines for volunteers, staff and patients to effectively manage boundary and attachment issues; and a more sophisticated understanding of risk. The lack of involvement of volunteers in community care is often driven by historical organisational conceptions of appropriate roles and fears of job substitution. Where volunteers have been successfully introduced these concerns have been sensitively confronted through engaging community care staff in role development and organisational change.

    Conclusion(s) There is considerable potential for increasing the role of volunteers in emotional, social and practical support roles in community care.

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