Update on the Voice of Volunteering – supporting and learning from the EAPC Madrid Charter on Volunteering in Hospice and Palliative Care

This week, 7 to 13 April, it’s National Volunteers’ Week in Canada and the US. To celebrate, we are republishing this post and ask you to sign the Volunteering Charter to support the valuable work of volunteers in North America.

Ros Scott and Leena Pelttari (Co-chairs of the European Association for Palliative Care (EAPC) Task Force on Volunteering in Hospice and Palliative Care) and Steven Vanderstichelen (member of the task force steering group) explain more and urge you to take part in a survey to explore the awareness, reach and impact of the EAPC Voice of Volunteering Charter.

Clockwise from the bottom: Leena Pelttari, Ros Scott and Steven Vanderstichelen.

It seems no time at all since the EAPC Madrid Charter on Volunteering in Hospice and Palliative Care ‘Voice of Volunteering’ was launched at the EAPC 15th World Congress in Madrid in May 2017. Almost two years on, we are delighted by the response and that people in so many countries around the world have been inspired by the charter message: to advocatefor the support, recognition, promotion and development of volunteering in hospice and palliative care.

Approximately 3,000 people from 50 countries – from Albania to India and Japan to USA – have already signed the Charter both electronically and on paper. And it’s been translated from English into 12 different languages: Dutch, Finnish, Flemish, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Serbian and Spanish.If you believe in the difference that hospice and palliative care volunteers can make, then please show your support by signing the Charter here.

The Charter has three key aims:

  • Promote the successful development of volunteering for the benefit of patients, families and the wider hospice and palliative care community.
  • Recognise volunteering as a third resource alongside professional care and family care, with its own identity, position and value.
  • Promote research and best practice models in the recruitment, management, support, integration, training and resourcing of volunteers.

But why do we need a volunteering Charter?

Volunteers have long been involved in hospice and palliative care in many countries – in some countries palliative care could not happen without them. Volunteers contribute in various ways, supporting patients, families, and organisations. You may have seen Mijodrag Bogićević’s inspiring blog post about the difference that volunteers are making to BELhospice in Serbia.

Yet, volunteers are still not always recognised for their skills, experience and value to hospice and palliative care organisations and the people that they support. The EAPC Volunteering Charter aims to address this by asking individuals and organisations to commit to:

  • Recognise the important role of volunteers in the total care of patients and their families, and in sustaining hospice and palliative care services.
  • Promote volunteering in support of patients and their families.
  • Ensure effective management of volunteering, including clearly defined policy on roles, careful recruitment, selection, training and development.
  • Ensure effective support for hospice and palliative care volunteering at organisational, local and national levels (including the recognition of the importance of data collection, evaluation and research).
EAPC Madrid Charter on Volunteering in Hospice and Palliative Care

Launch of the EAPC Madrid Charter on Volunteering in Hospice and Palliative Care, Madrid 2017. Left to right: Prof Philip Larkin, EAPC President; Dr Julie Ling, CEO of EAPC; Dr Roberto Wenk, Past President of IAHPC; Dr Stephen Connor, Executive Director, WHPCA; Mag a Leena Pelttari, MSc, Co-Chair EAPC Task Force on Volunteering and CEO, Hospice Austria. Photograph: Dr Johann Baumgartner, Hospice Austria.

How could the Charter help you to enhance and improve support?

Even in countries with well-established and developed hospice and palliative care volunteering there is still much to do. For example, do you regularly collect data and report on volunteering activity and impact in your organisation? Is this collected and reported nationally to give an overview of local and national trends to inform future planning? If not – perhaps the Charter can inspire you to start!

How could you contribute to future improvements?

Since this post was originally published in September 2018, the EAPC Task Force on Volunteering in Hospice and Palliative Care has developed a short survey to explore the awareness, reach and impact of the EAPC Voice of Volunteering Charter.

We invite members of all national palliative care organisations and hospice teams to take part in the survey – it’s anonymous and voluntary and it will take only 10 to 15 minutes to complete. Your answers will contribute to future improvements to the Charter as an advocacy tool for the support of Hospice and Palliative Care volunteering. You can access the survey by clicking here.

Tell us your story…

We are currently collecting short stories (around 400-500 words) from individuals and organisations about the difference the Charter has made to them, their organisation or country. We would love to hear what influence the Charter has had, the changes that have been made and how they were made.

If you want to help, reach out to us and email Ros Scott or Leena Pelttari.


Note: This post was first published on the EAPC blog on 19 September 2018 and has been updated to reflect new developments.


Some key events on volunteering are taking place at the 16th EAPC World Congress in Berlin

Friday 24 May:
Open Meeting, EAPC Task Force on Volunteering: 12.55-14.15, Room 5, 2nd floor.
Plenary presentation: ‘The Liminal Space Palliative Care Volunteers Occupy and the Roles they Perform within it: A Qualitative Study’, by Steven Vanderstichelen. 15.30-15.50, Convention Hall II.

Saturday 25 May:
International Symposium: Volunteers at the Heart of Hospice and Palliative Care – 10.00 to 17.00. See more here.

View the full EAPC World Congress programme here.  Register here


This entry was posted in VOLUNTEERING IN PALLIATIVE CARE. Bookmark the permalink.

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