‘Volunteers build Resilient Communities’ is the theme of this year’s International Volunteer Day that we celebrate today, 5 December.
To celebrate the day in the context of palliative care, Professor Catherine Walshe, Co-director of the International Observatory on End of Life Care, Lancaster University, UK, introduces a new evidence-based toolkit, designed by the Elsa project team to help hospices and other providers of end-of-life care to plan and deliver volunteer services.
Volunteers are vital members of many palliative care teams. However, for those tasked with setting up volunteer provided services, or supporting volunteers in their roles, there are numerous questions, including:
- What can volunteers do?
- How often should a volunteer visit to support someone?
- Who could we best reach out to?
- How do we organise ourselves?
Accessing the evidence, where it exists, to support making some of these decisions can be time-consuming, hard to understand and interpret, or not easily available to practitioners. That is where our evidence-based volunteering toolkit comes in, which you can download free here.
The toolkit is a deliberately short and user-friendly guide to the best evidence available to support those planning and delivering volunteer services towards the end of life. It presents evidence in an easy to read, practical format to help volunteer service managers better facilitate the skills and attributes that volunteers bring, when they offer support and befriending to people with advanced conditions and their families.
How was it developed?
The toolkit was carefully developed, with input from volunteer managers and other stakeholders, drawing from research conducted by the International Observatory on End of Life Care at Lancaster University, and the Institute for Volunteering Research at the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (in the UK), funded by the UK Cabinet Office. This research showed that having a volunteer helped people with some aspects of their life, especially by slowing the decline in their health, and had greater impact for those who had most needs. It also points readers to other research and useful resources to help you develop volunteering services.
How can the toolkit be used?
We hope the toolkit will help in a number of ways. It might help you to re-shape the way you offer help, perhaps by focusing on a particular patient group, or concentrating care on a smaller number of people. It might help you to explain your service, showing that volunteer services are safe and of benefit. You could also use it as an advocacy tool, explaining to managers, trustees or funders the importance of volunteer provided services towards the end of life.
Where can I get the toolkit?
A free copy of the toolkit can be downloaded by registering on this link.
We hope that you will find this helpful, and do let us know what you thought about the toolkit.
Let’s advocate for the support, recognition, promotion and development of volunteering in hospice and palliative care. Please sign the Voice of Volunteering – The EAPC Madrid Charter on Volunteering in Hospice and Palliative Care. What better way of celebrating the work of our volunteers worldwide?