In the Analysis Report, the majority of hospice community volunteer programmes were described as staff led with volunteers delivering support. Only a small number of Hospice Neighbours or Compassionate Neighbour programmes described themselves as community of volunteer led.
However, despite many organisations describing very structured community volunteering programmes, a number of hospices were moving away from this model to towards a more empowered ‘light touch’ approach.
A range of factors may influence the type of community volunteering programme appropriate to your organisation including:
- Requirements of funders
- Local community – needs, demographics, services
- Organisational philosophy of palliative care
- Organisational culture
- Level of trust in and empowerment of volunteers
- Organisational attitude to risk
- Level of support from trustees and senior staff
- Charitable objectives
- Experiences of other hospice community volunteering programmes
- Available resources
What type of support will volunteers provide and for how long?
Findings from the Analysis Report showed that volunteers provide a range of support to people with PEOLC needs and their families. There were three main types of support:
- Practical support such as shopping, housework, collecting prescriptions, helping with meals, accompanying to appointments.
- Social support such as enabling people to enjoy hobbies, accompanying on outings, helping people to stay connected to their community.
- Emotional support such as sitting with people, listening, being with people in the last hours of life.
The majority support was offered for as long as required by recipients and in some programmes this was bereavement support was offered. More details of the type, length of support offered and how referrals are made can be found in Analysis Report Section 2 Resources section and case studies.
Other considerations may include
- Governance of the programme
- Accountability for the programme - hospice/community/both?
- Does the programme sit within the hospice structure?
- If so where does community volunteering sit within the organisational structure?
“Don’t expect to establish a fully functioning team quickly, it needs time to grow and evolve. First 18 months to establish the foundation, second 18 months to embed and develop to the needs of the organisation/patients.” (Dorothy House, Case Study X)