The lived experience of volunteering in a palliative care biography service

Beasley, Elisabeth, Brooker, Joanne, Warren, Narelle, Fletcher, Jane, Boyle, Christopher, Ventura, Adriana and Burney, Susan 2015, The lived experience of volunteering in a palliative care biography service, Palliative and supportive care, vol. 13, no. 5, pp. 1417-1425, doi: 10.1017/S1478951515000152.

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Title The lived experience of volunteering in a palliative care biography service
Author(s) Beasley, Elisabeth
Brooker, Joanne
Warren, Narelle
Fletcher, Jane
Boyle, Christopher
Ventura, Adriana
Burney, Susan
Journal name Palliative and supportive care
Volume number 13
Issue number 5
Start page 1417
End page 1425
Total pages 9
Publisher Cambridge University Press
Place of publication Cambridge, Eng.
Publication date 2015-10
ISSN 1478-9523
Keyword(s) Biography services
Palliative care
Psychosocial interventions
Qualitative
Volunteering
Science & Technology
Life Sciences & Biomedicine
Health Policy & Services
Health Care Sciences & Services
OLDER-ADULTS
DEPRESSIVE SYMPTOMS
LIFE
BENEFITS
HEALTH
WELL
REMINISCENCE
PEOPLE
LOGOTHERAPY
HAPPINESS
Summary OBJECTIVE: Many patients approaching death experience hopelessness, helplessness, and a depressed mood, and these factors can contribute to a difficult end-of-life (EoL) period. Biography services may assist patients in finding meaning and purpose at this time. The aim of our study was to investigate the lived experience of volunteers involved in a biography service in Melbourne, Australia, using a qualitative methodology. METHOD: The participants were 10 volunteers who had participated in a biography service within a private palliative care service. Each volunteer was interviewed separately using a study-specific semistructured interview guide. The transcripts of these interviews were then subjected to thematic analysis. RESULTS: Analysis yielded the following themes: motivations for volunteering; dealing with death, dying, and existential issues; psychosocial benefits of volunteering; and benefits and challenges of working with patients and their families. Our results indicated that volunteering gave the volunteers a deeper appreciation of existential issues, and helped them to be more appreciative of their own lives and gain a deeper awareness of the struggles other people experience. They also suggested that volunteers felt that their involvement contributed to their own personal development, and was personally rewarding. Furthermore, the results highlighted that volunteers found that encounters with family members were sometimes challenging. While some were appreciative, others imposed time limits, became overly reliant on the volunteers, and were sometimes offended, hurt, and angered by what was included in the final biography. SIGNIFICANCE OF RESULTS: It is hoped that the findings of the current study will provide direction for improvements in the biography services that will benefit patients, family members, and volunteers. In particular, our findings highlight the need to provide ongoing support for volunteers to assist them in handling the challenges of volunteering in a palliative care setting.
Language eng
DOI 10.1017/S1478951515000152
Field of Research 1117 Public Health And Health Services
170199 Psychology not elsewhere classified
Socio Economic Objective 920299 Health and Support Services not elsewhere classified
HERDC Research category C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
ERA Research output type C Journal article
Copyright notice ©2015, Cambridge University Press
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30080527

Document type: Journal Article
Collection: School of Psychology
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