Palliative care services often have volunteers as part of the team. Volunteering or ‘helping out’ can take many forms. Volunteers work with health professionals and community organisations. They may contribute a range of skills. They provide help or companionship in very practical ways. This could be in hospices, in aged care facilities, or in the home. They can provide help to patients, carers and family members. This can include a range of tasks such as shopping trips, or help with getting to appointments. They can also provide a friendly ear, or make a cup of tea or coffee. Volunteers do not replace a paid worker, but volunteers play an important role in palliative care working alongside health professionals.
Volunteering Australia has provided a Definition and Principles on Volunteering in Australia (54kb pdf).
Volunteer Managers use screening and selection processes to guide them in selecting volunteers. Volunteers with appropriate skills and motivation will work in different parts of the palliative care program.
Palliative Care Information for Volunteers
Some volunteers will be new to palliative care and others will have been involved for some time, if not years. This means that the information you require will be different, depending upon your experience and level of involvement.
If you want to know more about the specific diseases that people receiving palliative care may have, there is information on disease-specific resources in the Finding Services section of the CareSearch website. This includes the various cancers, lung / kidney / heart disease, dementia, and MND.
CareSearch also has information for health professionals who provide palliative care and for patients who receive palliative care, as well as information for their carers, families and friends. A lot of this information will be useful to you as a volunteer and your colleagues. This includes topics on such things as:
- Understanding palliative care and who provides it
- Living with illness and changes over time
- Plans and decisions and preparing for the end.
There is also information targeted at carers including:
- The carer role and managing daily life
- Respite and support
- Looking after yourself.
Practical information is also useful and may be of great benefit to those who are new in the care giving role, such as:
- Finances and costs
- Care resources
- Managing medicines.
There is also a series of resources that has been compiled based around topics relevant to patients and their carers.
You can find online learning modules (free) that are for volunteers and you may be interested in a short online video that highlights some important issues for volunteers.
Last updated 16 March 2018