Volunteers in Palliative Care in the World of COVID-19: An International Survey

Sophie Shedel is studying for the MRes in Global Health at Lancaster University. She is working alongside Catherine Walshe and the European Association for Palliative Care (EAPC) Volunteer Task Force on a survey to understand the impact of COVID-19 on volunteering in palliative care. They need the help of all volunteer managers with an important international survey….

Sophie Shedel.

If you represent a specialist palliative care organisation and are responsible for managing volunteers, or know somebody else who is, please help us in our research by answering and sharing our survey.

Specialist palliative care and hospice care are an important part of managing the COVID-19 pandemic. While paid staff are key to providing these healthcare services, volunteers are also major contributors, providing at least €1,700 of value to organisations in the UK every year. Some settings have more volunteers than paid staff and volunteers often remain in their care setting for several years, offering stability. Volunteers complement professional care and are increasingly found in patient-facing roles, supporting different aspects of care including in-patient palliative care units, hospital and home palliative care teams, home nursing and within the community. Care received from volunteers is effective, safe, appreciated by patients and assumed to enhance wellbeing and improve the quality of life. Volunteers themselves benefit from their role as it plays a major role in their lives, impacting their own values.

Data collected from April to July 2020 from the multi-national CovPall survey showed that 69 per cent of palliative care services used volunteers prior to the pandemic and that 78 per cent of these had to greatly reduce their use of volunteers at the beginning of the pandemic. This reduction likely reflects policy changes that were introduced to protect vulnerable volunteers. However, some adaption to the pandemic was seen, with new roles created or existing ones becoming virtual. Given that palliative care is so dependent upon care from volunteers, it is important to understand if, and how, the role of volunteers is changing through the pandemic.

More about the survey

Our survey aims to understand how the contribution of volunteers to palliative care settings is changing during COVID-19. The survey consists of both multiple-choice and free-text questions. There are six sections, and it should take about 30 minutes to complete, depending on how many additional comments you wish to share with us. Everything you say will be considered and will really help us. We ask that the survey is completed once for each organisation, ideally by the person responsible for managing volunteers. The responses will be aggregated and anonymised and the results will be shared through publications and presentations.

The study is managed and coordinated with members of the European Association of Palliative Care (EAPC) Volunteer Task Force and has been granted research ethics approval from Lancaster University Faculty of Health and the Medicine Research Ethics Committee.

What can you do to help us?

Please complete the survey if you are responsible for managing the volunteers within your organisation. You can find the survey, and further information, by clicking on this link, which will be active for four weeks until 18 June 2021. You can also help by sending the link on to other volunteer coordinators in palliative care services and asking if they could complete the survey.


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This entry was posted in EAPC Task Forces/Reference Groups, VOLUNTEERING IN PALLIATIVE CARE and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Volunteers in Palliative Care in the World of COVID-19: An International Survey

  1. Pingback: International survey for volunteer managers – Palliative Care NSW Volunteer Support Services Programme

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