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P29 Willen hospice - supporting volunteers to support patients and their families
  1. Sue Whear
  1. Willen Hospice, Milton Keynes, United Kingdom


Title Supporting Volunteers to Support Patients and their Families

Background Patient and Family Services provide emotional support to patients and their families through Carers Support, Young Peoples Support and Bereavement Support. This is facilitated by volunteers who have been trained in offering skilled support for people who are going through a very difficult time.


  • To train volunteers to a high standard, equipping them with the skills to support patients, carers, children and young people and those who have been bereaved.

  • Provide regular supervision for volunteers, offering support, guidance and structure.

  • To develop volunteers through 1:1 reviews.

Approach Used Volunteers work in one of the departments three services Patient & Carers, Young People’s or Bereavement Support. They are required to complete a 9 week training programme including:

  • Loses

  • Grief Responses (including age appropriate)

  • The Journey of Cancer

  • Communication, Listening Skills

  • Pre-bereavement

  • Attitudes towards Death

  • Beginnings, Middles, Endings

  • Bereavement

  • Practical Activities

  • Boundaries, Supervision

  • Policies, On with the Job

  • Safeguarding Children & Adults

Monthly supervision takes place with volunteers by way of client caseloads; update on the Hospice and Department and a topical discussion. 1:1 meetings take place annually and are centred on the volunteer, their development, guiding them to use their skills appropriately.

Outcomes Patients and their families are supported by skilled, committed volunteers, giving them the opportunity to talk about their emotions, in a safe, confidential setting helping them find their coping strategies.

Volunteers are valued, nurtured and respected for the work they do.

Application to Hospice Practice Patient and Family Services combines support and activities through volunteers for patients and their families delivering innovative methods of support and services which encompasses the Hub model, bringing it to the centre of the community.

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