Dr Ros Scott, Co-Chair European Association for Palliative Care Task Force on Volunteering, and Dr Steven Howlett, Deputy Director, Roehampton University Business School, are co-editors of a new book that explores the complex phenomenon that is volunteering in hospice and palliative care in different countries.
Volunteering has always been a vital part of hospice and palliative care; in many countries initiating and contributing to the development of services and in others the only way of delivering care to those with palliative and end-of-life needs. Yet, however vital, these community members who volunteer their time are seldom part of mainstream discussions and debates about the future of hospice and palliative care. It often seems that there is an assumption that volunteers have always been there and so will continue to be there in the future. But can we depend on this?
Some time ago, we were reflecting on just this and how volunteering in hospice and palliative has changed in recent years. Our discussion was set in the context of the rapidly growing demand for hospice and palliative care as a result of people in many countries living longer. It seemed to us that organisational interest in volunteering was growing as services began to look more and more to volunteers to help them to address this need. However, was there also the understanding that volunteering is also in a state of flux?
How and why is volunteering changing? – and other questions
As society changes and the time that people have to give to volunteering becomes less, volunteers’ expectations subsequently change. It was at this point that the idea for a book exploring the changing nature of hospice and palliative care volunteering was born. We had so many questions that we wanted to explore. How had volunteering developed historically in different countries? What were the legislative and political influences that affected volunteering and do they help or hinder? We also began to wonder what we could learn from the approaches to management and training in different countries. How and why was volunteering changing, and what are the resulting implications for hospice and palliative care services, both now and in the future?
We wanted to explore the well-established community-led volunteering models in India and Africa and to consider how community-led programmes work in other countries. Most importantly, what of the volunteers themselves? Volunteer narratives are often told by paid staff, but we wanted to hear from the volunteers themselves – what is it like to be a volunteer today in hospice and palliative care in different countries?
We are indebted to the experts from Eastern and Western Europe, North America, Australia, India and Africa who so willingly contributed their insights, to answer these many questions; who shared with us their thoughts on the factors that contribute to the success of volunteering and helped to shape this book. Also, to the volunteers themselves who shared their personal experiences so openly. We are delighted that the book, The Changing Face of Volunteering in Hospice and Palliative Care: An international perspective, is to be launched at the 10th EAPC World Research Congress in Bern where so many of the chapter authors will be present.
If you’re attending the Congress, do please join us at the EAPC stand at 13.00 on Friday 25 May for the launch.
Links and resources
- The Changing Face of Volunteering in Hospice and Palliative Care: An international perspective, edited by Ros Scott and Steven Howlett, is published by Oxford University Press, April 2018. ISBN: 9780198788270.
The 10th EAPC World Research Congress takes places in Bern, Switzerland, on 24 to 26 May 2018. Download the final programme and abstracts from the congress website.
Follow all the Congress activity at #EAPC2018