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P-197 The impact of a hospital based, volunteer-led end of life service on staff wellbeing
  1. Kim Bonnar and
  2. Julia Bearne
  1. Marie Curie, London, UK


Background In 2014, a hospital in the South West of England and an end of life care charity introduced a service of specially trained volunteers to provide emotional and practical support to dying patients in hospital, and their friends and family.

Aims Alongside providing support to patients and families, the service was developed in acknowledgment of increasing pressure on staff. In particular, staff can have limited time to provide one-to-one support at the end of life (Nursing Standard/Marie Curie survey, 2018).

Method To identify and understand any potential impacts of the service on NHS staff, nine semi-structured interviews were conducted. The sample included consultants, nurses, receptionists and chaplaincy staff to allow for the exploration of a range of different perspectives. A thematic analysis was conducted using the interview transcripts.

Results Three main staff benefit themes were identified: relieving feelings of professional guilt, being able to offer patients and families options, and the service’s responsiveness and reliability. Staff spoke of challenges in giving patients their time on busy hospital wards. Interviewees spoke of the professional guilt experienced when they could not provide one-to-one support. The introduction of a reliable, well regarded volunteer service however allowed them to offer options for patients, alongside giving families opportunities for respite. In turn, staff described how the service helped to relieve feelings of professional guilt.

Conclusion This work suggests the service has a positive impact on staff, particularly in terms of relieving feelings of professional guilt. This is acutely relevant in a time of high levels of workforce pressure (Nursing Standard/Marie Curie survey, 2018) This work also highlights the importance of considering impacts of volunteer services beyond immediate beneficiaries.

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