Background A report in 2012 recommended hospices explore new approaches to volunteering to develop skills and widen deployment of volunteers enabling hospices to extend their reach (Help the Hospices, 2012). We recognised the need to broaden the age range of our volunteers, with only 11% of our volunteers being under 35 years, and the need to develop and expand existing patient facing volunteer roles.
Aims To address barriers to volunteering; offer more flexible volunteer roles; review the areas where volunteers can provide additional support and widen participation.
Methods Survey sent to 950 volunteers; staff consultation and informal feedback from people applying to be volunteers.
Results We identified barriers to volunteering were type of role and rigid role specification. Many want a patient-facing role with flexibility in time commitment. The following initiatives were developed:
a new, more hands–on ward based volunteer role
increased range of tasks for teenage ward support volunteers
volunteer roles attracting those unable to commit to regular days and times
supporting patients with advance care planning
discharge buddies supporting patients transitioning to home
Partnership with a children’s centre allowing young mums to commit to training and volunteering.
Our evaluation found for both patients and staff the experience has been positive with more diverse volunteer roles, flexibility in time and initiatives to support those with personal commitments with 7% more people volunteering in direct patient support. The average age of volunteers has reduced by three years since introducing a more varied volunteer programme.
Conclusions We have enhanced the level of support offered to patients through more hands-on volunteer roles and recognised the need for volunteers to use and develop their skills as well as the need for more flexible opportunities. The ability to provide childcare during volunteer training has enabled people who would traditionally not be available to become volunteers.
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