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P32 Talking whilst there’s time
  1. Sarah Popplestone-Helm and
  2. Anne Tomkins
  1. St Richard’s Hospice, Worcester, United Kingdom


Introduction Help the Hospices encourages us to develop the roles of volunteers by ‘building on existing practice, promoting excellence in the future and exploring new approaches to volunteering.’ (Volunteers: Vital to the future of Hospice Care. 2012 p. 3) Increased levels and complexity of referrals, limited resources and a 3 month waiting list for counselling encouraged us to look at developing the counselling service to introduce volunteer counsellors and volunteer s counselling students.

Aims This project aims to support patients and families with complex needs, saving the Hospice money, resources and cutting the waiting list, whilst giving students and qualified counsellors the opportunity to work within Palliative Care, giving them the opportunity to enhance existing good practice and extend their skill base.

Methods We worked alongside organisations who had also considered this way of working, looked at what they had learned and what might have been done differently. We linked with universities regarding courses suited to the Hospice ethos, and how a hospice placement might enable best learning for students.

Paperwork was designed and trialled.

Universities approached and criteria for students and volunteers agreed.

Adverts were placed in appropriate professional journals, interviews carried out.

Induction and training plans developed, and education delivered.

Outcomes Building on existing practice enabled us to offer patients and families the opportunity to ‘talk whilst there’s time’.

Students and qualified counsellors have trained and experienced working within palliative care, thereby promoting excellence in the future.

264 volunteer counselling hours have been worked in the first 6 months, saving the Hospice £4000: the counselling waiting list has been cut from 3 months to 3 weeks.

In exploring this new way of working we have developed and expanded our service and have been pleased to share our findings through education, supervision and networking.

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