Honouring the work of Ros Scott and Leena Pelttari in leading the EAPC Task Force on Volunteering

The European Association for Palliative Care (EAPC) will host its latest webinar on Tuesday 9 November (17.00 CET) in partnership with the EAPC Task Force on Volunteering. Ahead of the webinar, we are delighted to publish this special tribute to Ros Scott and Leena Pelttari who have led the task force since 2013.

Sheila Payne, International Observatory on End of Life Care, Lancaster University, United Kingdom, Phil Larkin, Palliative and Supportive Care Service, Lausanne University Hospital and University of Lausanne, Switzerland and Lukas Radbruch Department of Palliative Care, University Hospital Bonn, Germany, explain.

Ros Scott (left) and Leena Pelttari, Co-chairs and founders of the European Association for Palliative Care Task Force on Volunteering

‘O flower of Scotland, when will we see your like again’ (Roy Williamson 1936-90)

Those of you who follow the sport of rugby will be familiar with this national lament from Scotland. In this blog, we wish to both lament that Ros Scott will be leaving us as she moves into a well-earned retirement but also to celebrate the important contribution that she and Leena Pelttari have made in establishing and leading the EAPC Task Force on Volunteering. They have been an impressive partnership, working tirelessly since 2013 to drive forward European-wide recognition of the role of volunteers in palliative care and hospice.

Ros started her career by qualifing in diagnostic and therapeutic radiotherapy, before moving to focus on the role of volunteer coordination in various hospices for more than 25 years, and latterly being appointed as Honorary Research Fellow in Volunteering at the University of Dundee. She is widely known in Scotland, the United Kingdom and Europe for both her practical advocacy and support for volunteers, and for her scholarship in this topic (such as the edited book The Changing Face of Volunteers in Hospice and Palliative Care published with Steven Howlett in 2018 by Oxford University Press). She held many prestigious roles, for example, she was Vice-Chair of Cruse Bereavement Care Scotland and a member of the Scottish Advisory Board for Marie Curie. She received a lifetime achievement award in 2013 for her work in palliative care volunteering.

Achievements of the EAPC Task Force on Volunteering

The Task Force on Volunteering was an innovation for the EAPC, which has traditionally had a focus on professional work and development. It highlighted the essential role played by volunteers in hospice and palliative care services in most European countries and globally. It was therefore a challenge that Ros and her co-chair Leena were eager to embrace. Leena drew on her considerable expertise as CEO of Hospice Austria to work in partnership with Ros. They have many achievements including important contributions to the EAPC congresses. They even organised a whole day on volunteering at the EAPC World Congress in Berlin in 2019, filling a large hall with volunteers and professionals listening to impressive stories about the challenges and successes of volunteers and coordinators from different countries.

Perhaps the most impressive achievement was launching the Madrid Charter on Volunteering in Hospice and Palliative Care in 2017. The Charter has been promoted internationally and translated into 12 languages, helping to establish norms and standards for volunteers, whether they work providing direct support to patients and families, or facilitate services and assist organisations, or mobilise resources and funding. The outcomes of the Charter have been evaluated in a recent publication1 helping others to learn what can be done for the future. (The full-text article is currently available to download free of charge for a limited time).

Ros and her colleagues have also been active in eliciting the stories of volunteers.  Capturing the special aspects of their roles and the attention that they provide to patients nearing the end of life and bereaved families.2 These are inspirational accounts that show the common humanity that is so important in palliative care contexts. Entitled ‘The Colourful Life of Volunteering in Europe’, the e-book will be launched at the EAPC webinar on 9 November and will be hosted on the EAPC website. A paper on the qualitative analysis of the stories has also now been published. 3

We know that we will not see your like again Ros, but we hope that you enjoy a long and happy retirement in the wonderful ‘wee bit hills and glens’ of Scotland.


A warm welcome to the EAPC Task Force on Volunteering webinar

We encourage everyone to join the final webinar on Tuesday 9 November at 17.00 to 18.30 CET to celebrate all the achievements of this remarkable task force. Register here.



  1. Steven Vanderstichelen, Leena Pelttari & Ros Scott (2021): Evaluating the EAPC Madrid Charter on volunteering in hospice and palliative care: reflections on impact, Progress in Palliative Care, DOI: 10.1080/09699260.2021.1964678. (View the article here: https://doi.org/10.1080/09699260.2021.1964678)
  2. The Colourful Life of Volunteering in Europe, 2021. Publication forthcoming.
  3. Ros Scott, Anne Goossensen, Sheila Payne & Leena Pelttari (2020): What it means to be a palliative care volunteer in eight European countries: a qualitative analysis of accounts of volunteering, Scandinavian Journal of Caring Sciences.https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/scs.12832

Links and resources

More about the EAPC webinar series – Webinars are free of charge and open to all health and social care staff, academics, and researchers with an interest in palliative care.  On-demand content is also available exclusively for EAPC members. Join, or renew your membership here. Members of our national associations can join the EAPC for free here


This entry was posted in EAPC Webinars, INTERVIEWS & TRIBUTES, VOLUNTEERING IN PALLIATIVE CARE and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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