Use of Volunteers in Hospital-Based Palliative Care

Topic: Staffing Models


Presence St. Mary's hosp.jpg

The Presence St. Mary's Hospital Palliative Care practitioners were encountering a number of patients in the hospital with no visitors, little to no social interaction and, at times, going through the dying process alone.  The hospital's Volunteer Services Department was approached for interested members who might be willing to sit with patients.  Discussions ensued and a vision was created to develop a program that now has evolved into an abbreviated ELNEC training for volunteers interested providing services to our hospital based palliative care patients.  Carts were developed that have numerous items including oils for massage, music, kits for making hand prints, snacks, and bereavement reading materials. The volunteer program has even expanded to assisting with follow-up phone calls and monitoring patient/family satisfaction.  While initially developed for patients that were socially isolated, the program has become extremely popular among the volunteers serving all Palliative Care in-patients providing services Monday through Friday and on-call.  Poster would explain timeline of program, program implementation and how patients are identified for volunteer interaction.



  • Lynn McDonald, MD, FACP
  • Ronda Bond
  • Sue Giacchino, DNP, APN

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