Background In October 2014 a detailed mapping study of volunteers in palliative care services in NSW was undertaken for the first time. This presentation will provide a thematic analysis of the initial findings.
Aims The aim of this study was to provide a thematic analysis of the occupational terrain of palliative care volunteers across NSW as part of a project to develop the capacity of palliative care volunteer services and to raise public awareness of their work.
Method A total of 44 Volunteer Coordinators, clinicians and other health service staff were surveyed across 38 services mostly by telephone and face-to-face meetings using a 21 question survey which measured quantitative and qualitative data.
Results The survey clarified the number and distribution of the 38 palliative care services, 1,242 volunteers and 22 full-time-equivalent volunteer coordinators in NSW. Data included comments made by participants in the survey, and thematic analysis reveals that the palliative care volunteers are constructed as neither exclusively clinical nor non-clinical in nature.
Conclusion Palliative care volunteers metaphorically stand at the shores of the clinical domains, interacting collegially with the clinician but identifying with the public and acting to guide people ashore and through the expert landscape. The report concludes that given the emergent nature of palliative care practice there are precedents for the inclusion of palliative care volunteers more extensively within communities of practice at strategic, policy and operational contexts, but this might actually do a disservice to the unique function of volunteers as coast watchers.
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