Is it okay to date my patient's unmarried caregiver?
Can I ask the family to only speak English when I’m around, so I won’t feel left out?
My patient wants me to help him commit suicide. He hates being alive in his condition. How do I handle this?
These are a few ethical questions that may concern hospice volunteers as they go about their duties of providing quality of life care for terminally ill patients. Perhaps you can think of many more. While training classes that certify hospice volunteers cover many topics, they don’t always cover the varied situations that can arise for someone playing the role of healthcare volunteer and friend.
The College of Nursing at Utah did a study that explores ethical issues hospice volunteers confront during their assignments with patients. These are the prominent themes resulting from interviews of hospice volunteers:
1) Dilemmas about gifts
2) Patient care and family concerns
3) Issues related to volunteer roles and boundaries
4) Issues surrounding suicide and hastening death
The study also concludes that hospice volunteer training should include more discussions after the initial training. This later training should include more ethical situations confronting volunteers and strategies for dealing with them.
You can read more here about this study of hospice volunteers and ethical issues.
Frances Shani Parker, Author
"Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes”
“Hospice and Nursing Homes Blog”