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P-278 Using a practice development approach to develop a new role for volunteers in a hospice
  1. Karen Filsell,
  2. Irene Barclay,
  3. Tommy Dalgleish,
  4. Nicola Mackay and
  5. Dot Partington
  1. St Columba’s Hospice, Edinburgh, UK


Background Staff on our Inpatient Unit (IPU) are keen to enhance the experience of patients and families. Our Volunteer Services Team wants to broaden the ways in which volunteers contribute their skills and experience. The IPU staff worked with the Volunteer Services Team on a new role for volunteers on the wards.

Aim To develop a new role for Inpatient Unit volunteers which is fully integrated into the staff team.

Method A practice development approach (collaboration, inclusion and participation) was used, drawn from the nine principles of Practice Development (McCormack, Manley, & Titchen, 2013) and the Person-Centred Practice Framework (McCance & McCormack, 2017).


  • Literature review

  • Consultation with other hospices about their practice

  • Staff, volunteers, patients and families participated in a range of consultations. Four questions were asked: What do volunteers bring to the ward? What else could they do? What training do they need? What support do they need?

  • A small development team was identified to manage the project

  • The project was promoted internally to maintain staff/volunteer engagement

  • An educational programme for two Volunteers, Charge Nurses and Volunteer Champions (Health Care Assistants).


  • Six week pilot with two volunteers

  • Volunteers attended morning handovers, working 07.15 – 13.15 one day a week

  • Reflective feedback was gathered from ward volunteers.


Face-to-face interviews with volunteers and staff.

Conclusion Early indications:

  • Volunteers made positive contributions and integrated well into the wards

  • Volunteers were involved in emotional support and practical tasks, allowing staff more time with patients and families

  • Quicker responses to patients’ needs

  • Volunteers felt empowered

  • The project was a professional development opportunity for the Volunteer Champions.

Future plans: The evaluation will help us refine a more fulfilling role for ward volunteers contributing to an enhanced patient and family experience.

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