Award winning hospice project provides high quality, low cost care

Categories: Care.

We hope you find this series of articles thought provoking and inspiring, and that you feel encouraged to enter your own innovative projects or nominate any deserved individuals for this year’s awards. (This year’s awards are open until 19 August)

In this article Louise McCartney, voluntary services manager at Douglas Macmillan Hospice, tells us about the success of her hospice’s winning project, Community Lodges Volunteer Programme, and why she would recommend entering this year’s awards.

The hospice was proud to be awarded the Innovation in Volunteering Award at the 2012 Help the Hospices conference as it nationally recognised the fantastic work of our volunteers, who deliver invaluable care and support the care team in the Lodges. The award is on display in the hospice reception for all visitors to see. Our local National Gardens Scheme representative is utilising the picture and award information from the conference in his talks within the community, further increasing our profile in the wider population.

The aim of the Lodges is to provide high quality, low cost care for patients and their family. In order to achieve this we recruit a team of volunteers to support the healthcare support workers to deliver high quality care in the Lodges. The volunteers undertake extended education and training in order to assist them to demonstrate competency in caring for palliative patients and their family. Subsequent to achieving the competencies the volunteers are given the title ‘volunteer healthcare’ and are then able to provide 1-to-1 care to patients. Many of our volunteers have also been able to achieve a Level 2 Diploma in health and social care qualifications through Newcastle College.

The training also includes information on end of life and palliative care, communication skills, the role of the multidisciplinary team, manual handling and infection control. The volunteers attend a session on loss, grief and bereavement and receive specialised bereavement training to enable them to assist patients and their families to create memory boxes.

The impact on the hospices patients, families and volunteers has been vast. A member of the hospice’s patients’ forum said: “The standard of support provided by the volunteers is very high and they feel like part of the team to us. They are committed, dedicated and very professional.”

The volunteer framework is cost effective, highly skilled and up-to-date. The volunteers assist the care team with all aspects of patient care, enabling three additional beds to be offered to patients in North Staffordshire for palliative care support. This role is innovative and highlights that, through the correct training and support, volunteers can undertake roles providing hands on care to patients. The scope of this role is enormous and has provided us with a brilliant platform to expand the patient facing roles throughout the hospice. 

One of the volunteers explained why she wanted to be part of the project: “I chose the community lodges as it gave me the opportunity to work directly with the patients and they were actively promoting the training of volunteers to a healthcare standard.”

Another added: “During my time at the Lodges I have taken part in numerous training activities which include dementia awareness, what is palliative care, loss, change and bereavement, communication, competencies, catheter training, pressure area care and also observations.”

Subsequent to receiving the award we are delivering the volunteer healthcare programme within our 28 bed inpatient unit. In December 2012 the hospice recruited a Lodges volunteer coordinator. This post supports the development of the volunteers and development of the role and responsibilities. The coordinator is key to the success of the Lodges through her management of the rota, recruitment of volunteers and facilitating training for new volunteers. Currently the coordinator is exploring more roles such as patient companionship.

I would recommend all hospices to enter their projects into the awards scheme as through sharing best practice we can develop as a hospice movement. The recognition has been positive with national and local publicity and has highlighted again to the volunteers the value in the role they deliver in the Lodges, increasing motivation and boosting volunteer retention.

For further information on the Lodges and Douglas Macmillan Volunteer Programme contact Louise McCartney on 01782 344300 or email

Would you like to enter this year’s Help the Hospices and National Gardens Scheme Awards?

The award categories this year are:

  • Innovation in Clinical Practice
  • Innovation in Income Generation
  • Innovation in Volunteering
  • Lifetime Achievement
  • Volunteer of the Year.

Award winners will receive a glassware award, a free place at this year’s Hospice Care Conference (21-23 October in Bournemouth), and PR opportunities to publicise your success with support from Help the Hospices media team. Winning will also give you an opportunity to instil pride and morale in staff, volunteers, supporters and your wider community. This year’s awards ceremony is being held at the Hospice Care Conference. Enter before 19 August 2013

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