Presented by: Steven Vanderstichelen
Background: Governments expect communities to take up increasing shares of palliative care provision, e.g. through volunteerism. An overview of current volunteer involvement and how organisations view volunteer contributions is therefore crucial to prepare and optimise volunteer integration.
Aim: Describe how involved in the organisation of care formal, direct patient care volunteers are in organisations providing palliative care in Flanders (Belgium) and how these organisations evaluate this involvement.
Method: A postal survey was conducted among organisations providing care for patients with chronic, life-threatening conditions at the end of life in Flanders, Belgium. The sample included every palliative care unit, palliative day care center, multidisciplinary home care support team, medical oncology department, sitting service, volunteer community home care organisation, and a random sample of nursing homes.
Results: Response rate was 79% (N=258). 75% of organisations inform their volunteers about the organisation of care, 35% consult them, 47% take their opinion into account, 15% give them decision rights and 7.5% allow them to make autonomous decisions. Most organisations (74%) rate their volunteers’ involvement as sufficient. 17% indicate their volunteers should be more informed, 18% feel volunteers should be consulted more, however there was low support for more decision rights (6.7%) or autonomous decision making (2.6%).
Conclusion: Care organisations seem generally content with the overall low degree of involvement by direct patient care volunteers. Results suggest potential for more volunteer responsibilities in care organisations, but most organisations are reluctant. Increasing the volunteer contingent, however, might increase their demand for involvement in care organisation.