Cornish charity Cornwall Hospice Care has this week launched its new Volunteer Sitting Service in the Bude area. The team will support those caring for people who are living at home with terminal illnesses. The first six months will be run as a pilot project with the aim of continuing and expanding the service in the future.

A team of nine locally-based volunteers have been recruited by the charity and have recently completed an intensive three day training course. Initially they will provide support in the Bude and North Cornwall area.

The idea is to support carers and family members of patients receiving end-of-life care at home, by providing them with a trained Cornwall Hospice Care volunteer to sit with the patient. The carers or family members can then use this time to take a short break or to enjoy a chat with the volunteer.

Becky Rust is the Volunteer Services Coordinator for Cornwall Hospice Care;

“The volunteer sitters will stay with a patient for up to two hours at a time to allow the carer, who is often a family member, to take a break, rest, or go out for a while, safe in the knowledge the person has someone with them. The presence of a volunteer for company, making tea or offering a listening ear can make a huge difference for both the patient and their carer, by reducing stress and feelings of isolation. This is a non-clinical role, the volunteers will not be able to provide nursing or personal care.”

The patients are those with a terminal illness who have chosen to die at home, and who have a prognosis of 3 months or less. Referrals to the service can be made by health professionals such as District Nurses, General Practitioners, Community Matrons, Community Specialist Palliative Care Nurses, and Marie Curie Nurses. Once the four ‘sits’ have taken place, a patient can be re-referred by a healthcare professional.

Dawn Tame-Battell is the Director of Patient Services at Cornwall Hospice Care;

“I’m delighted to see this initiative get off the ground. Our volunteers are keen to help and we know people caring for loved ones at home welcome support and a break where possible. With more people choosing to spend their final months in their own homes we appreciate there’s a growing need to support them. With our specialist knowledge in the area of palliative care, we have been able to train our volunteers accordingly. Now I hope we can consolidate this service and then extend it out across Cornwall.”

The above picture shows the Bude Sitting Service volunteers who are (from left to right) Carol Whibley, Julie Vallance, Diana Ellacott, Eve O’Mahony, Jenny Westaway, Ros Dolphin, Jackie Adcock, Gill Shipsides and Roberta Woodward.