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The impact on emotional well-being of being a palliative care volunteer: An interpretative phenomenological analysis

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>1/04/2022
<mark>Journal</mark>Palliative Medicine
Issue number4
Number of pages9
Pages (from-to)671-679
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date30/12/21
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Much palliative care provision relies on the support of volunteers. Attention is paid to the risks to professionals providing care, such as stress and burnout, but understanding if this is an issue for volunteers is little understood. It is important to understand the impact their role has on volunteers emotional well-being.

To explore the experiences of palliative care volunteers and how the role impacted on their emotional well-being.

Interpretative phenomenological analysis, with data collected through semi-structured interviews.

Volunteers in patient-facing roles within palliative and end-of-life care services in the UK.

Volunteers (n = 10) across three palliative and end-of-life care services. Four themes were developed: (1) it can be challenging; (2) it’s where I’m meant to be; (3) managing death; (4) the importance of connection. Challenges included frustrations and questioning themselves. Although difficult at times, volunteers expressed the importance of the role, doing well and that they benefitted too. They also had to manage death and discussed beliefs about life and death, acceptance and managing patients’ fears. Connection with the hospice, patients, staff and other volunteers was important, with a need for everyone to feel valued.

Although there are psychosocial benefits for volunteers in their role, it is important to understand the challenges faced and consider ongoing support to help volunteers manage these challenges. This could be addressed through the consideration of coping mechanisms, further training and reflective practice for volunteers.