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P-94 Ignore volunteer carers at your peril – young adults to retired adults; developing skills to care
  1. Tricia Wilcocks and
  2. Sue Marshall
  1. ellenor, Kent, UK


Background Staff shortages are a reality, training is not keeping pace with increasing demand for care, fuelling skill shortages, increasing agency costs (The Health Foundation, Nuffield Trust & The King’s Fund, 2018) and increasing pressure on existing staff (Triggle, 2019).

Volunteers are an essential but under-utilised support for hospices (Help the Hospices Commission into the Future of Hospice Care, 2012; Together for Short Lives & Help the Hospices, 2014). In our hospice volunteers recognised they could do more to help, asking to be trained to support clinical staff in a more practical way (Marshall & Wilcocks, 2018).

Aim Enable a team of Care Volunteers with skills and experiences to work alongside clinical staff across all care settings.

Methods A pilot project to train Care Volunteers in the ward setting was quickly extended to offer Care Volunteers experience to work in the Day Hospice and Community teams. See Table 1 (Training and support provided for care volunteers).

Abstract P-94 Table 1

Training and support provided for care volunteers


  • Demand for Care Volunteers is increasing across the organisation;

  • Increased care hours provided;

  • Reduced stress levels on clinical staff;

  • Reduced agency costs;

  • Dementia patients are supported whilst carers attend training or support groups;

  • Increased provision of respite care in community;

  • Recruitment to Healthcare Assistants roles from Care Volunteers.

Case studies Community crisis: A patient’s wife was the main carer but became acutely ill, needing hospital admission. A Care Volunteer responded immediately, staying with the patient until a respite bed could be found.

Recognising dying: Care Volunteer providing personal care recognised signs of end of life, alerted staff, enabling family to be with the patient as they died.

Conclusion We need to recognise that these Care Volunteers are a viable alternative to overstretched staff, providing added value to end of life care.

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