Context A hospice setting has a small, busy research team and the volunteer research assistant is an important role within the team, providing additional support for delivery of research projects and related activities.
The role was first introduced in 2014 following the development of research infrastructure and capacity building within the organisation.
What has been achieved?Examples where volunteers have supported hospice research include assisting:
the research team with the set up and co-ordination of a clinical trial. Including support with the organisation and collation of study materials, meetings and training to the site.
the running of a research event. A volunteer supported the set up and running of the event by helping organise attendance lists and other materials for the day, greeting and registering attendees on arrival.
data entry into an electronic spreadsheet of study data collected on paper forms. They have also learnt some data checking skills along the way too.
What have we learned?Our experience with involving volunteers as part of the research team has been a rewarding one working towards the hospice’s strategy to become increasingly research active in order to provide the best care for patients and their families. It has provided the hospice with additional research capacity to deliver projects and other research related activities.
Volunteers with different skills, expertise and experience of the organisation has meant we have been able to match their input to the needs of the research activity.
Experience of involving volunteers has meant we have been able to develop a role description for a ‘volunteer research assistant’.
Introducing the role of the ‘volunteer research assistant’ has helped to promote ownership of this unique position to the volunteer involved. There is value in developing this role to provide regular support in developing, setup, delivering and disseminating research within hospices.
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