Background Anxiety is common in advanced disease (Spencer, Nilsson, Wright, et al. Cancer. 2010;116:1810–9). Our hospice inpatient unit often supports individuals who are anxious, frightened, or confused and who need extra support and a reassuring presence. The wish is to give every inpatient time and care, particularly in the late evenings and at night when visitors have left. Anecdotally, we found staff struggled to balance the need to sit and offer comfort and reassurance with competing ward duties.
Aim The aim was to enrich our support to patients. Our evening/night team felt that the one-to-one support they needed for their patients might not always require qualified clinicians. We have a volunteer service, OrangeLine, that provides telephone help and support and a proposal that some of these experienced volunteers could help was put forward.
Method A role description was designed and a small team of six volunteers available in the evenings and overnight was recruited. We created an induction schedule and a training programme and called the project ‘The Night Owls’. Night Owls were requested to volunteer using the model of bank workers.
Results Preliminary data shows frequency of use of the Night Owls over a time period of six months, and the circumstances in which they were used. Sixteen visits recorded. Next steps will gather qualitative data to capture the experience of the volunteers to inform further redesign of training and support of the role together with further scope and development. Data will be presented on the poster.
Conclusion Night Owls have provided 1:1 support and reassurance but also provided additional awareness to alert staff when the patient may require further intervention. The project is proving to be a success, with positive feedback from the Owls and from staff.
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