Palliative Care Volunteers

Palliative Care volunteers provide practical, social and spiritual support to individuals living with a terminal illness and their families. The most valuable skill an end-of-life volunteer can offer is to provide compassionate presence. They may help increase the quality of life by offering comfort care, companionship, or emotional or spiritual support to the patient, or respite for the caregiver.

Unit Description

The Palliative Care Unit has its central location at 4 JPE, however it consists of patients found throughout the hospital. The patients have a life-threatening illness, and will vary from conversational and going home to the acutely dying process.

Volunteers provide support and comfort for families and patients. Volunteer tasks include providing companionship for the patient and/or the family, assisting the nursing staff, providing respite for the family, aiding in delirium management, comforting the patient through conversation and touch, providing an opportunity for life reflection, and helping the family with grief work such as letter writing. Future programs in hand massage and hand print making are planned.

This unit will be both emotionally difficult and emotionally rewarding for volunteers. For this reason, only volunteers that have 40+ hours of volunteering with UIHC will be eligible for this unit. Volunteers who are self-motivated, interested in working with patients who are facing very difficult choices, and feel comfortable working with grieving families will have the most success.


All prospective Palliative Care volunteers are will attend large group orientation, where they will receive general UIHC information. Volunteers will also need to attend separate small group orientation, where they will receive training and information about the unit and receive a tour of the area.


The dress code for this unit is khakis and a Volunteer Services t-shirt or polo. Shirts are available in the Volunteer Services Office (8025 JCP). You must wear your Volunteer Services badge at all times.


Volunteers will be given a choice of an afternoon or evening shift that they will be required to attend once a week.

Area of Study Best Suited

This unit would be best for anyone interested in end of life care, aging, or gaining experience with patients and families that are going through difficult decisions, or have symptoms that have been difficult to manage.


For more information about Palliative Care volunteering, please contact Volunteer Services at 1-319-356-2515.