Thursday, February 24, 2011

Volunteers in Hospice Palliative Healthcare


 I am a volunteer. I am wondering how we ensure that family members and volunteers are represented at the conferences in healthcare?

I find I can no longer belong to these provincial associations. I cannot afford the fees, nor can I afford to attend conferences. Between conference fees, and accommodation, it is a large amount of money to pay for someone who devotes 30 hours a week to volunteering. 

If only volunteers with disposable income can attend such conferences, we are doing our clients a disservice. Only those with money are fighting for a voice. Only those with money are able to advocate. The conference sponsors don't understand those who are impoverished, and are unable to ensure their loved ones have adequate pain management, home care, and professional support.

It is well and good to offer reduced fees to volunteers if they volunteer at such conferences and AGMs ($375 at the last one I applied), but these fees, on top of volunteering, are not manageable by any but those with large pensions. 

I believe that we are doing our clients a disservice by hosting exorbitant conferences. I find that many volunteers are the backbone of hospice/palliative care work. Yet, much misinformation abounds, and many volunteers, while trained, do not have the information that is freely disseminated at these conferences.

I continue to research on my own. But I am not the norm. Many people in my position are volunteering for several different organizations. Sometimes we fight misinformation from our supervisors. This is what I have found in various conferences at which I have presented.

We depend so deeply on volunteers in this stream of healthcare. I am concerned that we are not reaching people, like us, who are indeed front line, 
unpaid workers.

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