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Constructing a new role for family carers and volunteers providing care towards the end of life: An Action Research approach exploring a new model of hospice care

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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>31/05/2021
<mark>Journal</mark>Health & Social Care in the Community
Issue number3
Number of pages9
Pages (from-to)837-845
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date13/02/21
<mark>Original language</mark>English


The objective of this study was to understand the conceptualisation and development of a novel way of providing end‐of‐life care in a Cottage Hospice setting, with a focus on the role of family carers and volunteers within this care model. A participatory action research design enabled a situational analysis, together with change processes. The study setting was a hospice in the South of England, and its network of wider associates in the local health economy. Participants were purposively sampled to provide relevant information. Data collection (2017–2018) included documents (e.g., meeting minutes) and interviews (individual and group) with external (e.g., GPs) and internal (e.g., staff, managers, volunteers, patients, family carers) stakeholders. These were followed by action cycles conducted by a core action group which explored issues related to family and young carers, the relationship between the main and Cottage Hospices and workforce engagement with the change process. Iterative, inductive, thematic analysis was followed by axial coding facilitated within NVivo. Twenty‐six individual and eight follow‐up interviews, two group interviews and five discrete action cycles were completed. At the core was a focus on disruption of the norm of professionally provided and mediated care, with three main themes: imagining the future of Cottage Hospice (growing demand, a home‐like space, innovative roles for families and volunteers); developing the role of family caregivers (making agreements, meeting needs, social inclusion and the ‘unknown’ expectations) and quality and safety issues (negative perceptions, personalised care and volunteer roles). Change was viewed as both a threat and an opportunity. Cottage Hospice represents the possibility of a truly new way of meeting the needs of dying people and their families, and could act as a template for progressive service developments elsewhere.