What do palliative care volunteers do?
Volunteers contribute to palliative care in many ways, working as part of a multidisciplinary team to support people living with advanced illness, their carers and families. They work in a range of different environments, including hospital palliative care units, residential aged care, hospices, the community, and supported accommodation for people with a disability.
Some volunteers are able to draw on their professional skills and qualifications, particularly if they have had a career in nursing, or worked in complimentary therapies that are approved by the palliative care service (e.g: massage, reflexology, aromatherapy, Reiki, pet therapy or art therapy). There may also be scope for musicians, vocalists, photographers, beauty therapists and hairdressers to use their skills.
Other volunteers contribute by providing companionship and practical support. They might spend time with the person who is unwell, playing cards or just chatting, while their carer goes out for a break. Or they might run errands, help with housework, write letters or document memories.
What time commitment is required?
Most palliative care services need volunteers to commit to working with them for at least one year. This reflects the time that services invest in supporting and training volunteers, to ensure they are equipped to work with people at the end of life.
However, different roles have different requirements, so clarify expectations when discussing any prospective volunteer role.
How are volunteers chosen?
Most organisations require volunteers to submit an expression of interest and complete an application. Some organisations have a wait-list of people wanting to volunteer, so it may take time to secure a role.
It is important that prospective volunteers are well-matched to the opportunities available. Like any recruitment process, volunteers will be screened and invited to participate in an interview. References and a police check may also be required.
When a role involves contact with people at the end of life, volunteers may need to complete an immunisation form and then have blood tests to check immunity. Immunisations may then be required.
How do I find a position?
Looking for a volunteer role isn’t so different to looking for a paid job. Start by considering what role will best match your skills, experience and interests. Also consider what environment you would like to volunteer in – maybe a hospice or hospital, aged care facility or the community.
Then, it’s time to start the search, actively seeking a role that suits you. When you see a role that appeals, then express your interest, highlighting how you can contribute and what skills you bring.
Opportunities in WA
When you are ready to seek a palliative care volunteering role that suits you, please consider these organisations and then contact them to…Learn more
The Lasting Words project
The Lasting Words project allows people who are approaching the end of their life to have their stories, thoughts and special memories captured.…Learn more