JOURNAL ARTICLE

The impact of volunteering in hospice palliative care

Stephen Claxton-Oldfield, Jane Claxton-Oldfield
American Journal of Hospice & Palliative Care 2007, 24 (4): 259-63
17895491
The goal of this study was to examine the impact of hospice palliative care work on volunteers' lives. In-depth interviews were conducted with 23 direct-patient care volunteers. More than half of the volunteers became involved in hospice palliative care because of their own experiences with family members and/or friends who have died. Most of the volunteers reported that they were different now or had changed in some way since they have been volunteering (e.g., they had grown in some way, have learned how to keep things in perspective). In addition, most of the volunteers felt that their outlook on life had changed since they started volunteering (e.g., they were more accepting of death, and they learned the importance of living one day at a time). Volunteers reported doing a number of different things to prevent compassion fatigue or burnout (e.g., reading a book, listening to music, talking to others, and taking time off from volunteering). Most of the volunteers said that they would tell anyone who might be thinking of volunteering in hospice palliative care that it is a very rewarding activity and/or that they should try it. Finally, many of the volunteers offered suggestions for doing things differently in their programs.

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