Article Text

Download PDFPDF

P-28 Partnership working to establish a volunteer compassionate companion service with an acute trust
  1. Helen Meehan1 and
  2. Wendy Meilton2
  1. 1Royal United Hospitals Bath NHS Trust Foundation Trust, Bath, UK
  2. 2Dorothy House Hospice Care, Winsley, UK


Background Not many of us express a wish for where we wish to die; a lot of us would hope to be at home, but for many it is hospital where they are cared for in the last days of life. For some patients and families there was a need for companionship support in the last days of life in hospital.

Aim To establish a volunteer service for patients nearing end of life to provide compassionate listening, comfort and companionship.

Method We established a partnership steering group and secured a 3 year grant to set up a volunteer companion service for the Royal United Hospitals Bath, building on an existing companion model at Dorothy House Hospice. We agreed a volunteer role profile, recruited volunteers, provided specific training and supervision. We developed referral criteria and information resources for patients and their families, for hospital staff and for volunteers. We tested the model on three wards and then agreed a roll out plan to all wards.

Results Despite the COVID-19 pandemic the service has rolled out to 19 wards. We have recruited four cohorts of volunteers and currently have 25 active volunteers. The service has received 86 referrals and supported 71 patients. The volunteers have provided 319 support visits and 618 hours of companionship. The reasons for referral have included: no family support (n=7), limited family support (n=37), respite break for family (n38) and support for family (n=3).

Conclusion The Compassionate Companion Service is making a huge difference to patients, their families and staff. Sometimes it is the little things, the small acts of kindness, the holding of a hand, the words of comfort and being present that give so much support to those nearing end of life and to their loved ones. We plan to roll out to all wards this summer and have service funding for a further three years.

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.