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Task Force on Volunteering in Hospice and Palliative Care


The Second Task Force on Volunteering will build on the  work undertaken by the first Task Force. The first EAPC Task Force on Volunteering which began in 2013 undertook a number of projects including: a European wide survey on volunteering, White Paper on Volunteering, several international Volunteering Symposia and Story Project. This work culminated in the development and launch of Voice of Volunteering: the EAPC Madrid Charter on Volunteering (the Charter) which was launched at the EAPC  15th World Congress in Madrid.  People from at least 13 different countries (Australia, Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, The Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania and UK) contributed to the development of the Charter.  To read the background paper to the development of the Charter please click [Here].  To read and sign the Charter please click [Here]. For versions of the Charter in other languages please see the translations section of the EAPC Website [Here].

This second Task Force will focus on supporting the implementation of the Charter and will explore in more depth the areas of: 1) volunteer recruitment and training, 2) training for those who manage volunteers and 3) volunteering quality programmes and frameworks in hospice and palliative care in Europe, with the aim of developing recommended guidance for best practice. The three areas have been highlighted during the first Task Force as the next areas to focus on. In practice these are basic core elements that are required for organising volunteering in hospice and palliative care.  In addition, the final outcomes of the work from the first Task Force will be disseminated.

The Task Force involves experts in volunteer management in hospice and palliative care, volunteers and academics from different European countries. The Task Force will also build on previous networking at a European level. A small number of contributors with specific expertise may also be drawn from other countries for example Australia, USA and Canada where the first Task Force already has connections. The approach will involve both research and the development of practice resources.  The outcomes are intended to promote the benefits of volunteering for patients, families and the hospice and palliative care community and to develop knowledge and understanding, and to improve and develop practice.

Aims and Objectives

The aim of the Task Force is to:

Implement and monitor the aims of the EAPC Madrid Charter on Volunteering using the Charter Implementation Plan by: 

Encouraging and supporting research and development projects across Europe to identify core elements of:

  1. Volunteer training
  2. Volunteer management training
  1. Quality programmes/frameworks.

This will be undertaken through the Task Force’s Volunteering Research Interest group.

As a result of this research, the Task Force members will develop:

  1.  A framework/toolkit for volunteer training,
  2.  A framework/toolkit for volunteer management training
  3. Recommended quality framework for volunteering

Following the experience and success of two previous international symposia on volunteering organised by the First Task Force, it is intended to continue to organise at least one further symposium to facilitate the sharing and exchange of knowledge and practice.  We also plan to ensure that Task Force members continue to present the Charter in conferences in different countries (dependent on the availability of funding). 


Research suggests that volunteering plays a key role within hospice and palliative care services in Europe (Radbruch, 2010, Burbeck et. al., 2014, Wothia et. al.,2015, Scott, 2015). Some services would be unable to function without this support (Scott, 2015).  Volunteers should be recognised as having their own unique place within the team alongside professionals and informal family carers (Goossensen, Somsen, Scott and Pelttari, 2016)  Volunteers add to the quality of care and patient experience (Naylor, Mundle and Weaks, 2013, Faulkener and Davies, 2005), demedicalise the environment and provide an important social dimension to care (Guirgius-Younger, Kelley, and McKee, 2005). For volunteering to be successful, however, there must be effective approaches to management (Morris et. al., 2013).

As a result of extensive research and consultation,  the first Taskforce on Volunteering developed Voice for Volunteering, EAPC Madrid Charter. The key goals include:

  • Promoting the successful development of volunteering for the benefit of patients, families and the wider hospice and palliative care community.
  • Recognising volunteering as a third resource alongside professional care and family care, with its own identity, position and value.
  • Promoting best practice in the management, support, training and resourcing of volunteers.

During  the First  Taskforce on volunteering, information gathered through workshops at international volunteering symposia and open taskforce meetings suggested that effective recruitment and the training and education of volunteer managers was essential to the the effectiveness of volunteers.  At the Open Taskforce meeting to discuss approaches to the implementation of Voice for Volunteering at the EAPC Congress in Madrid three key areas emerged strongly from all the discussion group sessions:

  • Effective recruitment – finding the right people for volunteer roles
  • Education: competencies and training required for volunteers and volunteer managers
  • The need for a quality framework of hpc volunteering

Whilst much research has focussed on the motivations of volunteers internationally, there is little research to date on the training of volunteers and therefore a lack of research evidence to support practice. What we know from the work of the First Taskforce is that organisations and countries who are keen to develop volunteer services seek evidence-informed guidance and resources. It is for these reasons that the Second Taskforce seeks to focus on the three areas outlined above and to develop evidence informed materials to support the development of volunteering for the benefit of patients and families.  


Burbeck, R, et al. (2014) Volunteers In Specialist Palliative Care: A Survey Of Adult Services In The United Kingdom. Journal of Palliative Medicine 17 (5), pp 568-574.  doi: 10.1089/jpm.2013.0157

Goossenssen A, Somsen J, Scott R, Pelttari L (2016) Defining volunteering in hospice and palliative care in Europe: an EAPC White Paper. European Journal of Palliative Care. 23 (4): 184-191

Naylor C, Mundle C, Weaks L, Buck D (2013) Volunteering In Health And Care: Securing A Sustainable Future The Kings Fund. London

Faulkener, M., and Davies, S. (2005) Social Support in the healthcare setting: he role of volunteers. Health and Social Care in the Community 13 (1): 38-45.

Guirguis-Younger M, Kelley M, McKee M (2005) Professionalization of hospice volunteer practices: what are the implications? Palliative and Supportive Care. 3 (2):143-144

Morris S, Wilmot A, Hill M, Ockenden N, Payne S (2013) A narrative literature review of the contribution of volunteers in end-of-life care services. Palliat Med. 27 (5): 428-36  Available from: Doi:10.1177/0269216312453608.

Radbruch, L, et al. (2010) White Paper On Standards And Norms For Hospice And Palliative Care In Europe Part 2: Recommendations From The European Association For Palliative Care. European Journal of Palliative Care. 17 (1): pp 22-33.

Scott R (2015) "We cannot do it without you"- the impact of volunteers in UK hospices. European Journal of Palliative Care. 22(2): 80-83

Woitha K, Hasselaar J, van Beek K, Radbruch L, Jaspers B, Vissers K (2015) Volunteers in palliative care – a comparison of seven European countries: A descriptive study. Pain Pract 15: 572–5

Publications and Blogs

Goossenssen A, Somsen J, Scott R, Pelttari L (2016) Defining volunteering in hospice and palliative care in Europe: an EAPC White Paper. European Journal of Palliative Care. 23 (4): 184-191

Scott, R., Pelttari, R. (2015) Comment EAPC Task Force on Volunteering: What progress has been made. European Journal for Palliative Care 22 (6) 265.

Pelttari, L., Pissarek, A., Scott, R. (2014) A new Task Force will investigate hospice volunteering in Europe. European Journal for Palliative Care 21 (3) 148,149. 


EAPC Blog May 17 2017 EAPC Task Force: Launch of ‘Voice of Volunteering’: The EAPC Madrid Charter on Hospice and Palliative Care in Europe.

EAPC Blog 3 August 2016 EAPC White Paper: Goossensen, A., Somsen, J., Scott, R., Pelttari, L. Understanding volunteering in hospice and palliative care

EAPC Blog April 25 2016 Scott, R., Pelttari, L. In their own words – The colourful lives of hospice and palliative care volunteers in Europe.

EAPC Blog March 2015 Scott, R., Pelttari, R Colourful lives of hospice volunteers in Europe 2.

EAPC Blog June 2014 Pelttari, L., Pissarek, A., Scott, R. (2014) Colourful lives of hospice volunteers in Europe.

EAPC Blog January 2015 Pabst, K., Radbruch, L. EAPC Survey: The role and motivation of volunteers in hospice and palliative care in Europe.

Dates of Open Meetings

We would be very pleased if you are able to join us at any of our Open Task Force meetings:

Open Task Force Meeting at EAPC 10th World Research Congress in Bern: 24 May 2018 12.15 - 13.45 in Room Vivace 4. Our focus will be on different approaches to researching volunteering impact and outcomes.

International Symposium on Volunteering.  Berlin: 22 May (Day before EAPC 16th World Congress in Berlin. Further information to follow.



Leena Pelttari
CEO Hospice Austria

Click here to contact by email

Ros Scott
Researcher and Independent Consultant,
Scotland UK

Click here to contact by email

Steering Group

Professor Anne Goossensen - Netherlands

Beatrice Manea – Romania

Professor Sheila Payne -  UK

Professor Lukas Radbruch - Germany

Catherine Renard – France

Steven Vanderstichelen - Gent University, Belgium
Mijodrag Bogicevic - Bel Hospice in Serbia 

Ex Officio Board Link: Professor Catherine Walshe


Includes representatives from: Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Serbia, Spain, UK, Ukraine.  If you would like to join us please contact:   or


Hospice Austria 

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