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P-166  Empowering volunteers to support carers and patients at the end of life
  1. Patricia Hamilton and
  2. Kevin Chesters
  1. Douglas Macmillan Hospice, Stoke on Trent, UK


Background An End of Life Support Service set up in 2014 as a pilot project funded by Staffordshire County Council, was developed, to engage and assess the needs of carers. A service was developed providing: information, advice and volunteer support. The volunteers provide emotional and practical support to help end of life carers cope with demands and difficulties they faced.

Development The Carers Support Service proved to be a great success, reviews and feedback regularly sought from carers, patients, medical staff and volunteers, showed the support assisted in helping carers continue in their caring role as well as enabling the patient to remain at home.

Funding ended in 2015, the hospice used the learning from this project to inform the ongoing development of its services.

The hospice decided to develop this into a new service including those patients in need of additional home support, the service has now become Carer & Patient Support Service.

One full time co-ordinator organises a team of volunteers to visit carers and patients known to the hospice in their own homes.

Volunteers Volunteers all received training et al., communication and listening, boundaries, confidentiality, safeguarding, and end-of-life care, ongoing training and qualifications are offered.

Outcomes Carers report that they feel more able to cope, less isolated, their sense of well-being increased, more able to sustain their caring role.

Patients report that they feel less of a burden, knowing someone is visiting just for them, giving their carer a break, and when there is no carer the patient said knowing someone is voluntarily visiting them they felt valued, less alone.

In a world where care has become increasingly professionalised, volunteers offering home support provide a valuable link between the medical needs of the patient, the physical and emotional needs of carers and patients.

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