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What Do Hospice Volunteers Do?

This module explores the many roles of hospice volunteers. Below are links to video clips, as well as readings and assignments that will help you explore the world of hospice volunteering.

To begin, please read Module 1 of the Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association's handbook, "Introduction To Hospice Palliative Care And The Role Of The Volunteer"




The 10 Myths of the Palliative Care Approach

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What is Hospice?

Basics of Hospice Care. This video clearly explains what hospice is and how hospices work.


Bill's Story - Talking together - Facing death and dying

This short film explores the important role that friends and neighbours have in supporting someone who is seriously ill and their family. Health promoting palliative care approach works with communities as people care for and support each other. Be United because united we make a difference.

This video clip is 6.25 minutes in length.

You Are a BridgeThis video animation compares palliative care approach to the foundation of a bridge. While illness may weaken the foundation, the palliative care team provides a stronger layer of support.

This video clip is 1.75 minutes in length.

What Is the Palliative Approach to Care?

Hospice palliative care aims to relieve suffering and improve the quality of living and dying by helping people with life-limiting and terminal illnesses live as comfortably and fully as possible.

Hospice palliative care recognizes dying as a normal part of living. The focus is on caring, not curing and on life, not death. The goal is to reduce symptoms and distress and provide comfort and support.

Hospice palliative care neither hastens nor postpones death.
Hospice palliative care is for the person who is ill. It is also for family members and friends, helping them care for their loved one and for themselves during times of grief.

Hospice palliative care strives to help patients and families:

  • address physical, psychological, social, spiritual and practical issues as well as their expectations, needs, hopes and fears
  • prepare for and manage the dying process
  • cope with loss and grief during illness and bereavement.

Hospice palliative care uses a team approach to care and is only provided when the person and/or family is prepared to accept it.
While hospice palliative care is the nationally accepted term to describe care aimed at relieving suffering and improving quality of life, individual organizations may use “hospice”, “palliative,” or “end of life” care – although end-of-life care usually focuses on the last few weeks or months of life while hospice palliative care focuses on the needs of anyone diagnosed with a life-limiting illness, sometimes many months or even years ahead of actively dying.

What Is the Difference Between Hospice Palliative Care and Curative Care?
Curative care focuses on helping someone recover from an illness by providing active treatment.

Hospice palliative care focuses on providing comfort, reducing symptoms and distress, and providing opportunities for meaningful experiences, personal and spiritual growth, and self-actualization.

Hospice palliative care takes a positive open approach to death and dying, and encourages discussions among the person, family and care team about death and dying, and their wishes for their care at end of life.

Hospice palliative care can be provided on its own or, in some cases, with curative care. For example, a patient may be receiving hospice palliative care for cancer while, at the same time, receiving curative care for a respiratory infection.

Where is Hospice Palliative Care Provided?
Hospice palliative care may be available in any setting where people reside, including at home, in hospices, in hospital, in long-term and chronic care settings, in shelters and in prisons.

When Should Hospice Palliative Care be Provided?
The decision about when to start hospice palliative care is made by the person and family in consultation with the care team. Under many provincial health plans, people must have a diagnosis of having six or fewer months to live to be eligible for hospice palliative care services. In reality, it is difficult to make those estimates. In some cases, the health care system continues with curative care only for so long that the person doesn’t have an opportunity to benefit from hospice palliative or end-of-life care. That is why there is a growing trend to provide both hospice palliative and curative care together, and to offer certain aspects of hospice palliative care, such as advanced care planning and psychological and spiritual support, to anyone diagnosed with a life-limiting illness.

Being a Hospice Volunteer

This slide presentation summarizes the philosophy, goals, and principles of PCSBV volunteering. 

Welcome to the Global Village of Palliative Care

The pathways within this village meander across provinces, countries and continents. From its humble beginnings in Britain in the 1960's, the modern hospice/palliative care movement has spread across the globe.

Here you are introduced to online networking resources available to caregivers in the palliative village. To begin, become familiar with the online home of the Palliative Care Society of the Bow Valley:


Explore every page, getting to know the content so that you can direct people to the resources available, paying particular attention to our resource guide and other online resources. 

Please let us know if you have suggestions for additional resources that could be added to our website.

Let's Look at Some of the World's Premier Palliative / Grief-Care Websites:

There are hundreds of websites from dozens of countries highlighting the work of palliative/grief-care around the globe. Explore this great network of information and people committed to quality of life... to the end of life.


Our first stop is the Alberta Hospice Palliative Care Association. This portal provides access to most of Alberta's palliative and hospice organizations.


The path continues... across Canada via the Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association.

Virtual Hospice

National resources carry on through Canadian Virtual Hospice.


Finally, we hop across the pond for introductions to the wide world of hospice care.

We begin with the European Association for Palliative Care

Our last stop on the tour is the African Palliative Care Association


Palliative care, while not a new idea in Canada, is gaining ground with increased public awareness.

Numerous news articles and social media posts have made their way to the public eye in recent years.

Assignment Details

  • Using a variety of media (print or online news, Facebook posts, other social media, etc.) find three unrelated stories pertaining to the theme of hospice/palliative care or grief.
  • Summarize (very briefly - a short paragraph) each of the stories.
  • Note common themes, concerns, and perspectives

Email the assignment to bill.harder@pcsbv.juiceware.io


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Congratulations (2)


You have completed Module 2: Role of the Volunteer

Click here to access Module 3: Effective Communication Skills