Gathering information

Perhaps the most important question is what you hope to achieve through a community volunteering programme as this may have significant influence on the type of programme that you go on to develop.

Gathering information is crucial
  • Do you want to move more towards a public health/Compassionate Community approach to palliative care?
  • Do you want to engage and empower the community to support people with PEOLC needs?
  • Do you want to reach more people that do not typically use hospice services?
  • Do you want to extend the support that your hospice can offer?

The Analysis Report Section 9 and case studies gives some insight into why some hospices developed community volunteering services. 

At the outset, a scoping exercise is valuable in identifying currently available support in the local community. It is equally important to understand the palliative and end of life care needs in the wider community.

This will not only identify key areas of focus for the community volunteering programme, but also potential partnership opportunities, minimising the likelihood of duplication of support.

What are other hospices/organisations doing?

The Analysis Report gives some insight into what some other hospices are doing in terms of type of support provided, Section 2 and Section 3 management, structures and costs.

Case studies also offer insight into the experiences of others. It is often worthwhile looking beyond the hospice sector to see what is happening in terms of community support and volunteering.

What benefits could community volunteering bring to stakeholders?

Findings in the Analysis Report Section 6 suggest that community volunteering has many benefits to people with PEOLC needs, families/carers, staff, organisations and volunteers are summarised below.

Summary: benefits of community volunteering

People with PEOLC Needs


Staff and Organisations


Reduction in isolation through companionship

Respite from caring

Better understanding of the needs of people with PEOLC needs and their families

Personal development/ experience for employment,

Improved wellbeing

Reduction in isolation through companionship

Stronger connection to the community

Giving back – making a difference

Improved access to services

Improved wellbeing


Sense of purpose and fulfilment

Better care


Improved access to services


Improved health and wellbeing



More details on the benefits to all these groups can be found in the Analysis Report through the following links:

  • People with PEOLC needs;
  • Their families and carers;
  • Staff and organisations;
  • Volunteers

What are the challenges, drawbacks and risks?

As important in starting out is understanding of the challenges and drawbacks. Forewarned is forearmed! The drawbacks most frequently identified by hospices in the Analysis Report, Section 6 included:

  • management (including recruitment, support, training, funding)
  • maintaining boundaries, 
  • meeting demand 
  • managing risk.

This is discussed in detail in the Analysis Report with information on how some hospices have addressed these.

Further evidence from wider research is included in Appendix 1.

"Besides additional staff resources I believe we can develop this service. We have good links with other hospices who have this service already and they are willing and able to support with planning and development."


What does hospice care mean to you?