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The liminal space palliative care volunteers occupy and their roles within it: a qualitative study
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    Response to ‘The liminal space palliative care volunteers occupy and their roles within it: a qualitative study’

    I read with interest the paper titled ‘The liminal space palliative care volunteers occupy and their roles within it: a qualitative study’ by Vanderstichelen et al (1) which reported on volunteers who care for terminally ill people. I consider that the authors’ conclusion that these volunteers occupy a liminal space ‘betwixt and between’ staff and family members may be drawn from an incomplete understanding of Turner’s (2) concept of liminality.
    The term derives from limen meaning threshold and is used to denote moving across a boundary from one state to another. The model involves three stages: separation, transition (the liminal phase) and (re-) incorporation. Examples include changes in status, such as getting married or gaining majority, or in life-stage, such as birth and death.
    I argue that Vanderstichelen et al’s consideration that these volunteers occupy a liminal space ‘betwixt and between’ staff and family members since they provide care which includes aspects of that given by both these ‘conceptually rigid and mutually exclusive domains’ (p. 9) shows that the volunteer role here is ambiguous rather than liminal. While ambiguity is a core feature of liminality as described by Turner and can be applied to the volunteer role – for example, when there are unclear boundaries between volunteer and paid staff roles (3) - the presence of this feature alone does not make the role liminal.
    I acknowledge liminality has been used in some organisational li...

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    Conflict of Interest:
    None declared.