Context This volunteering service supports patients and families coping with a life-limiting illness. It was established in 2015 following a study evaluated by Lancaster University, funded by the Centre for Social Action, Cabinet Office. It was one of six project sites to set up a pilot service to evaluate support for end of life patients by social action volunteers.
In collaboration with local partners volunteers were recruited and completed training following a thorough recruitment process. Patients were recruited onto pilot and consented to an assessment of their support needs. Patients and carers were asked by the University to complete questionnaires on carer burden, quality of life, loneliness and social support whilst being supported for twelve weeks by volunteers.
Aim To provide practical and emotional support for isolated individuals and their families, within their home who have a palliative diagnosis.
The project is managed by a co-coordinator who visits individuals at home and completes assessments to discuss the support required. Interests and background are taken into account to match with an appropriate volunteer. Regular reviews are held to ensure the partnership is working.
Weekly 1–3 hours of support provides:
Shopping or social outings
Daily errands and chores
Accompanying individuals to hospital and GP appointments
Assisting with social media to keep in touch with distant relatives.
Evaluation and sustainability The study is evaluated by Lancaster University by end of June 2016. It is hoped that this will provide favourable evidence for CCGs to future fund. The hospice carried out its own evaluation, a user survey which was presented to the board of trustees which resulted in backed funding for a permanent coordinator post.
Development of the service and role of the Herts Neighbour is being progressed to provide enablement and bereavement support.
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