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P-82 Volunteer companions: developing additional support for vulnerable patients on a hospice ward
  1. Jacqui Bourne,
  2. Sue Chapman,
  3. Susie Norton and
  4. Emma Lemm
  1. St Wilfrid’s Hospice, Chichester, UK


Purpose of the project To train volunteers to provide support for vulnerable patients within a hospice setting.

Specific aims There has been an increase in anxious or confused patients on the ward with a higher risk of falls. Volunteers could provide companionship to such patients as well as assisting those who need help with eating and drinking.

Problems to address This was an extension of the current volunteer role. It required training for them to be able to provide emotional support to a diverse range of patients with advanced disease and to assist patients with eating and drinking. Many departments in the hospice had to work together to make this concept a safe and well organised reality.

Methods The training was structured to create a foundation (level 1) Volunteer Patient Companion with the option of further training to take on the role of (level 2) Volunteer Mealtime Assistant.

Training for level 1 was delivered by the Psycho Social Team and covered effective communication, grief, emotional support and dementia. The Clinical Development Nurse for the Inpatient Unit taught the level 2 Volunteer Mealtime Assistants how to assist patients with eating and drinking.

To ensure the safety of volunteers and patients the Volunteer Co-ordinator and Lead Nurse Inpatient Services wrote a person specification to select the candidates for training.

Results To date 10 Volunteer Companions and 7 Volunteer Mealtime Assistants have been trained and have been greatly appreciated by patients, nursing staff and relatives alike.

Conclusions Continually looking for ways to develop the knowledge and skills of your workforce to meet the needs of patients is time well spent.

Recommendations Volunteers have a wealth of knowledge and experience which can be a resource for your hospice.

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