Nationwide survey on volunteers’ training in hospice and palliative care in Poland

Pawłowski, L. et al. BMJ Supportive & Palliative Care. Published online: 29 July 2016

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Background: Volunteers working in hospice and palliative care facilities in Poland undertake various activities which are performed in accordance with legal regulations and the individual policies of each hospice. The aim of this study was to explore the roles and training of volunteers working in hospice and palliative care settings.

Methods: A cross-sectional survey was carried out that investigated the services performed by volunteers and their preparation for work within residential hospices. Questionnaires were distributed to volunteers and hospice representatives, and the responses obtained underwent statistical analysis.

Participants: A total of 180 volunteers and 28 hospice representatives from 29 residential hospices participated in this survey.

Results: All hospices surveyed were supported by volunteers. 79% of volunteers worked alongside patients and performed the following services: accompanying patients (76%), feeding patients (61%), cleaning rooms (48%), dressing and bathing (42%) and organising leisure time (40%). Fewer volunteers were involved in activities outside of patient support—for example, charity work and fundraising (34%), cleaning hospice buildings (23%) as well as providing information and education (22%). According to volunteers, prior to undertaking their duties, 64% participated in theoretical training and 37% took part in a practical course. The majority attended courses relating to general knowledge of hospice and palliative care (64%) and volunteer rights and duties (55%).

Conclusions: Overall, proper training was an essential requirement needed to be fulfilled by volunteers, particularly when involved in direct patient support. Most volunteers were simultaneously involved in various areas of service; therefore, their training should be comprehensive.

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