Ros Scott and Leena Pelttari, Co-Chairs of the European Association for Palliative Care (EAPC) Task Force on Volunteering in Hospice and Palliative Care, introduce an exciting new project where hospice volunteers will tell their stories.
Volunteers play an important role in hospice and palliative care in so many different ways. Whether supporting patients and their families or helping with administration and fundraising there are so many wonderful examples of the humanity of people reaching out to others. So often, we hear descriptions of how many volunteers there are, what they do, what motivates them and how they are managed. We talk about volunteers but how often do we hear the stories of the volunteers themselves, in their own words?
Thinking about this prompted the EAPC Task Force on Volunteering in Hospice and Palliative Care to launch an exciting new project, the Stories Project, to gather stories about volunteering from the volunteers themselves and from volunteer managers. It was at our last Symposium in Vienna in April 2015, the ‘Colourful Life of Hospice Volunteers’, that we first launched the idea for the Stories Project. The response was very positive and the experiences shared by the volunteers were both moving and inspiring.
The Stories Project, therefore, aims to gather stories from hospice and palliative care volunteers from different countries to tell us about their life as a volunteer in their own words and language. Ideally, we would like to find five volunteers from each country. We would like to know what they do as a volunteer in hospice and palliative care and what volunteering means to them.
We also plan to collect stories from two members of staff who manage volunteers from the same countries and we would like to hear from them what their role involves, what volunteers mean to their organisation and what working with volunteers means to them. Once all the stories have been collected they will be published in the language spoken by the volunteer or volunteer manager alongside an English translation.
Key points from all stories will be summarised to give an overview of volunteering from the volunteer and management perspective. We hope to make these available through a link on the EAPC Task Force web page and some may be published occasionally through the EAPC blog and ehospice. If funding permits, some of these may be published in print form.
The stories that we collect will help us to understand more about why volunteers do what they do, how they experience volunteering and what it means to them to be a volunteer in hospice and palliative care. We hope that they will help to build a sense of a volunteering community and also inspire others to develop new ideas and areas of practice.
More about the EAPC Task Force on Volunteering in Hospice and Palliative Care
The task force was established in December 2013 and has embarked on a range of different projects. This includes a study, carried out by the University of Bonn, with member countries of the EAPC to explore the numbers and roles of volunteers, approaches to management and training, motivation and challenges faced. Other work includes the development of a white paper on the role and identity of volunteers and we are currently in the final stages of developing a Charter for Volunteering in Hospice and Palliative Care in Europe. In addition, we have held a number of international symposia. Attended by volunteers, paid staff and researchers from many different countries, these gave an invaluable opportunity to share knowledge, experience and practice. Read more about the task force here.
You can read more posts on volunteering on the EAPC blog.
Coming to Dublin for the 9th EAPC World Research Congress?
Please join Ros Scott and Leena Pelttari at the Open Meeting of the EAPC Task Force on Volunteering – Friday 10 June 2016 at 09h00-11h00, Classroom ALE 1.49 in the O’Brien Science Centre, University College Dublin. They’ll also be presenting their poster, Changes in volunteering – what does this mean for hospice and palliative care services in Europe?: EAPC Task Force findings.
Look out for more posters on volunteering at the congress and check out the ‘Meet the expert session’ on ‘Views and Policies of Directors of Health Care and Volunteer Organizations on the Roles of Volunteerism in Palliative Care: A Cross-Sectional Study. A Study Protocol’ by S. Vanderstichelen at 11h00-12h30 on Friday 10 June.
Even if you can’t attend the congress, you can still follow the activities by joining us on Twitter @EAPCOnlus – our official congress hashtag is #eapc2016irl