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Need for hospice volunteers recognized
Volunteers contribute valuable services to hospice patients, but hospices generally don't publicize the use of volunteers to the general community. A recent study shows that educating the public about the services provided by hospice volunteers increases the likelihood that they would select hospice service.1
A community sample of 100 adults in Canada was asked to imagine that they had been recently diagnosed with a life-threatening illness. After reading about the services provided by hospice palliative care volunteers, participants were asked whether they would choose to have a volunteer help them and to give a reason for their answer.
89 of 100 would use volunteer
Eighty-nine of the 100 participants indicated that they would use the help of a volunteer. The most commonly given reasons for using a volunteer included for the general support they provide, help with practical things, and lack of family nearby. Reasons given for declining the services of a volunteer included "I'm a private person,'' and "I don't need any help.''
Sixty-five participants knew that such a volunteer program was available. Of the 35 participants who did not, 31 (89%) expected their family doctor to tell them about it.
1. Claxton-Oldfield S, Gosselin N, Claxton-Oldfield J. Imagine you are dying: Would you be interested in having a hospice palliative care volunteer? Am J Hosp Palliat Care 2009; 26:47-51.