Background The hospice had been seeking ways in which to expand and diversify the volunteer workforce. Historically, local students with an interest in a career in medicine or therapies volunteered into existing roles such as reception cover or meal volunteers – opportunities and input was limited. A local grammar school asked if we could provide some volunteering opportunities for sixth form students who had expressed an interest in medical careers.
Aim Our aim was to set up a specific programme, where the hospice benefited from the students’ time and gave them chance to meet patients and gain an insight into the different careers within palliative care.
Method Following planning sessions with the school to understand the required outcomes for the students and an information session at the school, six students were recruited and soon visited the hospice for an induction afternoon and a tour of the hospice.
Inpatients. Students were the link between the kitchen and the patients, taking meal orders, delivering drinks and meals to them, and learning some basic cooking skills.
Wellbeing. Students joined a weekly patient check-in and chat session, engaging with the patients, and joining in existing activity sessions and leading some such as Gym Ball Drumming.
Results Students had a positive enriching experience gaining a greater understanding of palliative care, they developed in confidence in speaking with patients and staff supporting them to make informed career decisions. These young ambassadors are armed to spread the positive word in school and with their families of the work of the hospice.
Conclusion This programme was successful due to cross-team support from within the hospice.
We benefited from over 200 hours of volunteer time, some students are continuing to volunteer and fundraise. Following evaluation we have a programme model that with minimal adjustments can be repeated with further students.
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