Monday, July 9, 2012

Hospice-Palliative Care Volunteers: Why They Do It (Research, Video 4:44)

Many people wonder why hospice-palliative care volunteers serve patients who are terminally or chronically ill. Here are some answers researched by the Department of Psychology at Mount Allison University in Canada. Participants in the volunteer research included 41 hospice-palliative care volunteers from community and hospital-based programs. They were asked these questions with the following responses:

1)    What aspects of your work provide you with the most (and least) satisfaction?
In five of the nine programs involved, volunteers said that feeling appreciated by the patients and families they support gave them great satisfaction.
Boundary issues and/or role ambiguities were mentioned among the least satisfying aspects of their work by volunteers in four programs. (Volunteer coordinators should note this as part of ongoing training.)

2)    Why do you continue to volunteer?
Volunteers in all nine programs mentioned that they continue to volunteer because it makes a difference and meets a need in other people's lives.

     3) Why would you stop doing this volunteer work?
Among the reasons given for potentially stopping volunteering were a family crisis, burnout, old age, and other commitments.

Many kinds of activities are available for hospice-palliative care volunteers. Among services needed in addition to direct patient care are opportunities in community education, fundraising, and office work. Potential volunteers should also consider using special talents or unique job skills that they already have. Haircuts @ Home is a volunteer program of San Diego Hospice and The Institute for Palliative Medicine. This video titled Haircuts @ Home: San Diego Hospice Volunteer Program features two volunteer hairdressers giving haircuts to hospice patients.

Frances Shani Parker, Author
Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes is available in paperback at many booksellers and in e-book form at Amazon and Barnes and Noble booksellers.

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