Hospice palliative care volunteers: the benefits for patients, family caregivers, and the volunteers

Stephen Claxton-Oldfield
Palliative & Supportive Care 2015, 13 (3): 809-13

OBJECTIVE: Terminally ill patients and family caregivers can benefit greatly from the support and care provided by trained hospice palliative care volunteers. The benefits of doing this kind of volunteer work also extend to the volunteers themselves, who often say they receive more than they give from the patients/families they are "privileged" to be with. The purpose of this article is to demonstrate how hospice palliative care volunteerism benefits both the patients and families who utilize this service as well as the volunteers.

METHOD: A review of studies demonstrating how terminally ill patients, and especially family caregivers, can benefit from the use of hospice palliative care volunteers and how the volunteers themselves benefit from their experiences.

RESULTS: Terminally ill patients and families receive many benefits from using the services of hospice palliative care volunteers, including emotional support, companionship, and practical assistance (e.g., respite or breaks from caregiving). Volunteering in hospice palliative care also provides many benefits for the volunteers, including being able to make a difference in the lives of others, personal growth, and greater appreciation of what is really important in life.

SIGNIFICANCE OF RESULTS: More needs to be done to promote the value of hospice palliative care volunteers to those who can really benefit from their support and care (i.e., patients and their families) as well as to help people recognize the potential rewards of being a hospice palliative care volunteer. It is a win-win situation.

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