Volunteers enhance end of life care

Almost three in every ten patients in hospital are in their last year of life, yet many of them will die alone on a busy ward, spend long periods on their own, or have little company in hospital or at home. This is set to change with a new collaboration between Helpforce, a charity inspiring NHS Trusts to work with more volunteers in innovative roles, and terminal illness charity Marie Curie.

With funding from The National Lottery Community Fund, The Peter Sowerby Foundation, the Welsh Government, and Marie Curie they are launching seven innovative projects across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, which will mean more end of life care volunteers working in hospitals and in the community to provide much needed extra support to patients, families and friends, and staff.

To learn from this project, or if you’re thinking about setting up your own end of life care volunteer project – please join the Helpforce Network. You can also email our project manager Maxine Moss-Black on, [email protected]

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Helpforce volunteer working in a hospital

The seven projects: The West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust; The Northern Trust in Northern Ireland; NHS Borders in Scotland; York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, and three projects in Wales, Aneurin Bevan University Health, Powys Teaching Health Board, and Hywel Dda University Health Board, will embed end of life care volunteers in hospitals and in the community. 

The volunteers will be trained to support terminally ill people and their families, be there for them, and take some of the burden at a very difficult time. They will provide emotional and practical support, companionship and alleviate social isolation. They will ensure fewer patients die alone, bring comfort and help relieve the stress and guilt that staff sometimes feel when they can’t be with dying patients as much as they’d like.

Mandy Preece, end of life care volunteer describes the challenges and the joy of her role

Professor Nancy Preston, Lancaster University, talks about the impact of end of life care volunteers

We are grateful to all the funders making this project possible