Volunteers can make a difference in end of life care

An evaluation into the ‘End of Life Social Action Fund’ has been published by the government. This looks at how effective social action befriending services across 11 sites were at improving quality of life for adults in the last year of life.

The research into the first trial of such a volunteer service was undertaken by Lancaster University’s International Observatory on End of Life Care and the Institute for Volunteering Research.

Key findings:

  • More hours of contact with a volunteer appear beneficial.
  • Outcomes of quality of life, loneliness and perception of social support were improved.
  • Befriending support appears to slow a decline in quality of life at the end of life.
  • People who were older, had cancer, who live alone and are male may be more likely to benefit.
  • People enjoyed receiving the befriending service.
  • Trained and supported volunteers are able to deliver a high quality befriending service to those in their last year of life.
  • The support that volunteers offer is unique, occupying a position between family/friends and professional care.

Publication page.