A volunteer hospice team offers support and befriending to palliative care patients and their families in times of disease, pain, grief and bereavement.
The volunteer hospice team is part of a comprehensive support network and collaborates closely with other professional services in palliative care.
Volunteer hospice teams are vital in contributing to the psychosocial and emotional support of patients, relatives and professionals, and foster the maintenance and improvement of patients’ and carers’ quality of life. The support persists beyond the patient’s death and continues in the phase of bereavement.
Volunteer hospice teams do not only provide an indispensable dimension of palliative care to patients and families, but also act as advocates of palliative care to the general public. In some countries, volunteers contribute to fund-raising, reception and administration duties, and the governance of hospices as trustees.
There should be one volunteer hospice team available for 40,000 inhabitants. In certain regions, one volunteer hospice team for up to 80,000 inhabitants may be sufficient.
The volunteer hospice team comprises specially trained voluntary hospice workers with at least one professional co-ordinator.
A volunteer hospice team consists of at least 10 to 12 voluntary hospice workers and one dedicated professional co-ordinator. The coordinator should have an education in the social care and/or the healthcare sector, with additional specialist training in palliative care.
The voluntary workers should have participated in an accredited instruction course and take part in regular supervision and self-reflection, as well as in continuing education.
Radbruch L, Payne S and the Board of Directors of the EAPC. EAPC update. White Paper on standards and norms for hospice and palliative care in Europe: part 2. European Journal of Palliative Care, 2009; 16(6)