Our palliative care volunteers support people admitted to the Busselton Health Campus Hospice Unit with a community presence and ongoing connection to their community. They are present in the Hospice Unit every day of the year to provide companionship, a listening ear or everyday practical help to patients and their care network.
Palliative care volunteers provide emotional, social, spiritual and practical support to people nearing the end of their life, as well as their carers, family and friends. They are an important part of the palliative care team and work alongside the nurses, doctors and other health professionals.
Volunteers are trained to support people from all walks of life without judgement of their attitudes, values or beliefs. This work can be as challenging as it is rewarding but many volunteers describe the work as life affirming and uplifting.
People often ask me how I cope with so much death in my volunteer role. The truth is, this work is all about life. It is bringing comfort to others by hearing each unique life story with all the highs and lows, the triumphs and regrets as told by the person who is coming to the end of their life, or the people who know and love them. I’ve learned so much more about life than I have about death. That’s why, to me, this work is a privilege.
We recruit a group of approximately 20 new palliative care volunteers each year. Public information sessions about the role are held in the first week of February and people who wish to apply can nominate an interview appointment at that time. It is important to have a careful selection process for this professional volunteering role as the work requires a great deal of self-awareness to be able to offer effective end of life support.
All new volunteers complete our comprehensive five-day training program. The first four days are held in March with the fifth day in May. Supervised ‘buddy shifts’ are scheduled during April and June. Our newly ‘qualified’ palliative care volunteers then join a shift team and commence working in the Hospice Unit, typically on a fortnightly basis. Each Hospice shift is four hours and there is a morning, afternoon and evening shift most days of the working week. Our volunteers are in the Hospice Unit in the mornings on the weekend and will sit overnight with a dying person so that people need not die alone if there is no one else who can be with them.
If a personal care role is not for you, there are other ways to get involved as a volunteer with us, such as helping with fundraising, caring for our gardens and building at the Geographe Bay Centre and other activities which assist us to support the community.