Within our Hospice at Home service we have an established team of volunteers who provide companionship and respite at patients’ homes which may include dog walking, shopping or just spending time with patients who are lonely. Our companions do not provide any hands- on or personal care. Our existing team of paid staff are highly experienced health care support workers who look after the most poorly and most vulnerable patients. The current criteria for referral to our service is terminal, pre-terminal and respite patients on short episodes of care.
A gap was identified in our current service provisions when providing care and support for patients in their own homes. Patients were identified who fell between the two services and who didn’t require the experience of our paid staff but required more than our companion volunteers could offer, such as personal care.
We failed in a previous bid for funding so haveincorporated the new service into our costs from the existing service. A senior healthcare support worker manages and supports the new volunteer team with education and training, supported by a team leader. Initial training also requires spending time with our paid staff to gain experience, but also supported by phone contact from a team leader.
As lone workers volunteers need robust induction. They need to be confident to undertake this role and we need to have confidence in their abilities. Due to this we felt that volunteers that came to us for a limited time as part of their healthcare college course did not fit our requirements. Recruitment has therefore been slow but we are gradually gaining in numbers.