More research is needed into the benefits of involving volunteers in end of life care

by Bridget Candy Cochrane Research Fellow, Marie Curie Palliative Care Research Unit Bridget-Candy

A recent review, funded by Marie Curie and Dimbleby Cancer Care, explored the impact volunteers can have on the wellbeing of people living with a terminal illness and their families.
The review, which looked at which areas had been researched and which hadn’t, highlighted that the impact of volunteer interaction on the wellbeing of patients is currently under-researched. However, the review did find limited evidence that families who experience greater volunteer involvement in supporting their loved one are significantly more satisfied with care, while another study indicated that patients may survive longer if they receive home visits from a volunteer. Read the full paper

Marie Curie Helper service

As part of the Marie Curie Helper service, specially trained volunteers provide companionship, emotional support and practical help to people living with a terminal illness, and their carers, in their homes. It is heartening that the review indicated, albeit with limited evidence, that home visits from volunteers can have positive effects on the wellbeing of the people we care for. The Helper service is completely free of charge and is currently offered in Northern Ireland, East London, Bristol, Somerset, North Somerset, Nottingham, Liverpool, the West Midlands, South Wales and Fife. If you live in the areas above and would like support from the Marie Curie Helper service, or if you would like more information, please visit the Helper page on our website to find out more. What is clear from our experience managing the Helper service, and from our recent review, is that volunteers are a valuable resource and further research is needed to ensure that they are used appropriately and effectively.