Anyone can volunteer, however palliative care volunteering involves dealing with death and dying and so it’s not for everyone.
While you do not need formal qualifications or previous experience in palliative care, your volunteering role will require compassion and emotional maturity. Volunteers come from various backgrounds; however they share a common generosity of spirit and a willingness to help clients and carers living with a terminal illness. Usually a volunteer will be assigned to visit or phone one client at a time, however if you have the time and flexibility, you may be able to work with two clients. Volunteers will be asked to commit to a maximum of three hours per week. Visiting takes place during business hours on a regular day that is convenient for both the volunteer and the client/carer. As necessary, telephone connection can take place after hours and on weekends.
Volunteers will be asked to commit to visiting or phoning a client/carer until the client dies or is discharged. The length of time required is unknown as each client’s illness trajectory will be different. Our experienced volunteers tell us that rewarding relationships with clients and carers can develop quite quickly. Sometimes volunteers visit only a couple of times, sometimes for many months. It is important to be mindful of the “positive difference” that can be made even if it’s only for an hour or two for a few weeks.
Essential: The qualities we look for in palliative care volunteers include: • patience • flexibility • reliability • a non-judgemental attitude • understanding and acceptance of other peoples’ beliefs and values • willingness to listen and ‘be present’ • confidence in visiting independently • willingness to work within the prescribed volunteer/client role boundaries • ability to display common-sense and sound judgement • willingness to work within Wimmera Health Care Groups policies, procedures and guidelines. • Polite with good communication and listening skills • Excellent understanding of privacy and confidentiality • Awareness and empathy for the emotional, physical and psychological impact for clients and their family.
Responsibilities & Tasks:
As a volunteer you are required to: • Be willing and able to visit or telephone your client or carer once a week for up to three hours during business hours for the purposes of companionship and support for the client and their carers. • Maintain your visits until the client is discharged, enters a hospital or palliative care unit, or dies. Sometimes clients are discharged from the Service because their health has improved and they no longer need to be supported by a palliative care program. • Respect the rights and choices of clients including confidentiality, privacy and dignity. • Exercise a duty of care at all times, using common sense and adhering to Wimmera Health Care Groups procedures in any activities undertaken with the client or carers. • Provide regular notification of the planned visiting/phoning schedule, and feedback after each client/carer contact. • Participate in regular supervision and debriefing sessions with the Wimmera Cancer Centre Unit Manager and/or Cancer Resource Nurse.
WHCG Volunteers are required to complete a three-month probation period from when they start in this position and yearly reviews.