About Palliative Care Volunteers in NSW

In 2018 we conducted a survey of palliative care volunteer managers across NSW (see Snapshot 2018: A review of Palliative Care Volunteering in NSW).

The study found that there were some 1,610 active palliative care volunteers in NSW with 615 volunteers in hospital or inpatient settings, 352 in community settings and 270 volunteers working in both. In addition some 373 volunteers operated within residential aged care facilities.

The Sydney Children’s Hospital Network and St Vincent’s Health Network, both specialty networks, collectively have 209 active volunteers.

Volunteers were supported across 44 palliative care volunteer services in NSW. Of these 13 were within Metropolitan Local Health Districts and 27 within Regional Local Health Districts, 3 within Specialty Networks and 1 within a Residential Aged Care facility.

The report found that 3 services were dedicated to the support of paediatric patients and their families.

The survey focused on volunteer involvement in inpatient and community visiting roles and found that 7 services have volunteers within inpatient settings only, 15 services have volunteers only within community settings only, 21 services had volunteers in both settings with an additional service supporting residents in aged care.

This report asked managers about changes in their volunteer groups over the preceding 12 months and found that some 594 new volunteers had been commenced, with 391 of these in inpatient or aged care settings, 143 in community visiting roles and 60 volunteers in both inpatient and community visiting.

This means that the number of volunteers engaged in palliative care had increased by 33% over the last four years since our previous report A Snapshot of Palliative Care Volunteering in NSW 2014.  

The majority of palliative care volunteers were aged between 50 and 85 years of age and are 4 times more likely to be female than male. Their main activities are companionship and psychosocial support and they are also active in grief and bereavement support and carer respite. Each service required their volunteers to undergo induction training before commencing in their role.

Managers spent on average 17.75 hours per week managing volunteers. Some 30% of managers have been in their role for more than 10 years and some 10% of managers having been employed over the last 6 months.

Whilst managers worked either full or part time in their roles there were 7 volunteer services in NSW that were managed or coordinated by unpaid managers.

When asked about plans for service development 37% of services indicated they were planning to increase their number of volunteers. 15% of services either just have, or are just about to, expand into new areas and 37% of services have new projects planned such as adding biography services, complementary therapies, or bereavement supports.

Click here to read Snapshot 2018: A review of Palliative Care Volunteering in NSW

Click here to see a map showing the locations of the palliative care volunteer services in NSW.