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P30 Recognised, valued and supported? A carers befriending service is an innovative way of developing the use of volunteers, improving quality outcomes in end of life care
  1. Cheryl Scott,
  2. Olwen Sutcliffe and
  3. Jessica Seed
  1. St Catherine’s Hospice, Preston, UK


Introduction The Carers Befriending Service (CBS) is a free service developed by Hospice Social Workers, influenced by the Carers Strategy (2010) and Improving Supportive and Palliative Care for Adults with Cancer (2004).

Aims It provides an inclusive equitable service, supporting carers of people with a palliative diagnosis over 18 years who are mainly housebound and socially isolated. They have to be known to the Specialist Palliative Care Team, have an unpaid carer who provides substantial emotional/physical care on a regular basis.

  • Enables the carer to take a break from their caring role.

  • Assist’s to reduce carer stress.

  • Additional companionship and support to the cared for person.

  • Information to the carer and cared for person.

  • Reassurance to the carer in the knowledge that a trained volunteer is with the cared for person in their absence.

Methods Consultation with service users and carers about the development of a CBS.

Literature review undertaken and visiting/researching other end of life care CBS’s.

Assessment documents developed.

Fifteen volunteers trained and 10 recruited.

Outcomes measured by a review process using a solution focused method.

Results September 2011 – December 2012, 38 referrals, Befriended 17.

Aims have been met and carers took breaks by utilising the befriending service for varied reasons. Visits provide up to 4hrs a week, with 2hrs sessions being the most popular.

Befrienders provide emotional support and act as a link with the Hospice, improving vital communication processes at the end of life.

Service users satisfaction outcomes ‘excellent’.

Conclusion Carers Befriending offers a best practice service enabling carers to take a break. A unique emotional relationship is developed with the befriender, improving quality of life and general well-being.

Research supports volunteers can make an important contribution to end-of-life care and it meets the requirements of the Government’s ‘Big Society’ principles.

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