Why Does EPC Need Volunteers?
EPC volunteers bring part of the community into people’s homes, to help them feel connected and supported at a time when other social supports may have fallen away. They can offer normality and someone understanding to talk to.
Our volunteers are a key part of our clinical care team and without them, we would not be able to offer the breadth of support programs that we do.
'Wow! What a difference I hear in the voice and experience of my clients, since they have had a volunteer assigned to them.’ – Liz, EPC staff member
‘Volunteering in palliative care shows us the fragility and vulnerability of the human body while also allowing us to experience the courage of the human spirit.’ – Anne, EPC volunteer
How Can I Become a Volunteer?
Read about and sign up to become a volunteer in one of our roles HERE.
We have an interview process before offering new volunteers a place in our training program.
Please note that we usually only train new volunteers once a year, so depending on when you apply, there could be a wait until we open interviews.
Who Can Volunteer?
Anyone can volunteer with EPC! We do have a few requirements but, mostly, we need people who can be themselves and want to help.
We need you to:
- Live in our region: Boroondara, Manningham, Whitehorse, Monash, Knox, Maroondah and Yarra Ranges
- Have some free time during the week – we are flexible around holidays and family commitments
- Be over 18 years of age
- Be an Australian resident
- Complete a police record check and Working With Children check during training – no cost to you
- Have a car and driver licence
- Attend our full volunteer training program
- Attend some of our monthly volunteer training events and meetings (in person or online)
Do I Need Special Skills to Volunteer?
What we need most in our volunteers are great listening skills, empathy and patience. Our volunteers come from a wide range of backgrounds and bring different strengths.
Some roles do need special skills:
- Biography Volunteer – Moderate to advanced typing skills & moderate to advanced skills with Word.
- ‘Give a lift’ Driver Volunteer – Current licence and willingness to drive and park around hospitals - including within the CBD.
- SmileMakers Volunteer– Professional or highly trained amateur photography - with your own equipment.
- Cloud 9 Volunteer – Certification (past or current) in hairdressing/barbering
What Are the Benefits of Volunteering with EPC?
- Your visit changes the day for someone else
- You’ll be with an award winning, fun and passionate group of people
- You can show future employees that you are actively involved in your community
- You can learn new professional skills
- You can make new friends with other volunteers
- You are in charge and can access high levels of support, flexibility and down time
- You can keep your brain active
- You will have a chance to suspend your own agenda and join another as they live every day to the full.
What is the Time Commitment
The time commitment varies with each role. Here are some examples – and remember that you need to add in travel time to and from the client’s home:
- Biography Volunteer - 1 hour a week with the client, 4 hours a week on the manuscript (dependant on your speed)
- 'Give a Lift' Volunteer - Dependant on location of hospital and need of client
- SmileMakers Volunteer - 1 hour a session plus editing work at home
- Cloud 9 Volunteer - 1 hour a session
- Community Volunteer - 2-4 hours a week (often weeks are skipped as client is not well enough)
- Carer Support Volunteer - As above
- Palliative Paws Volunteer - 1 walk a week
- Administration Volunteer - Varies but at most would be 2 hours a fortnight
Volunteers in the above roles are placed with one person at a time and may visit from only a few times to several months, depending on the wishes and health of the client and the availability of the volunteer.
Will I Receive Training?
Yes. Training takes place over a 6 week period and is delivered in a variety of ways:
- Face to face in the classroom
- Zoom live training
- Pre-recorded videos
- Tutorials with experienced volunteers
- AND a high level of homework.
No volunteer is taken on until they have completed all the required training.
Why Do I Need to Have a Car and Driver's Licence to Volunteer?
We work across 7 government areas of Melbourne’s east, which is a huge area. We have to prioritise volunteers who can drive up to 30 minutes from their home in any direction and live in the same region as our clients. Using public transport is not practical as clients may not live close enough to a station or bus stop – past volunteers have tried and it is too difficult.
What Should I Expect to See When I First Meet a Client?
Clients’ appearances will vary: some people will seem healthy and others unwell. There may be medical equipment or a hospital bed in the house. It is important to remember that all are normal people living every day, but with a life-limiting illness. You will always be fully briefed so you know what to expect before your first visit.
“Our clients are living with an illness but mostly look very normal; some may have hair loss following treatments or they may be a little short of breath and be experiencing fatigue… however they are otherwise just like us and like to be treated the same way.” – Marie, EPC volunteer
What Support Will I Receive as a Volunteer?
At EPC, we know how vitally important it is to support volunteers who are working in palliative care. We put a lot of time and thought into this and our volunteers tell us they do feel well-supported. This is backed up by the results of independent, anonymous surveys of our volunteers by Best Practice Australia, run every two years.
We offer all volunteers training, ongoing education and mentoring, peer support groups, emotional support and debriefing. If there is a need for professional support we offer free access to our Employee Assistance Program (EAP).
The EPC volunteer tribe is strongly connected and there is plenty of room for humour, fun and friendship as well. And our door is always open.
“There is always debriefing available at any time by picking up the phone and speaking to someone. We also have our own individual network of volunteers – a smaller group – and we meet regularly.” - EPC Volunteer
“I imagine we all go into volunteering with EPC knowing our clients’ lives are limited, and as sad as it often is, there are so many joyous, funny and uplifting moments too.” – Veronica, EPC Volunteer
But Isn't It Sad?
"Volunteering in palliative care can be sad at times. However, it is also a very positive experience to spend time with another person nearing the end of their life, and there is a lot of laughter and shared stories too.” - EPC Volunteer
It’s an important point, so we asked our volunteers to answer it for you. Here are some more of their responses:
The Companionship team:
“Resounding NO from the group! Although there are sad aspects to it, it is a positive, happy and uplifting experience.”
“There are sad moments, but there are more smiles than tears”
“Yes, it is sad, but also uplifting to know you can make a small difference. The work we do brings so much joy and comfort.”
“It can be sad at times, however the clients on the whole just want to laugh and chat about life in general. They see us as bringing back ‘normal’ into their lives. We allow them to forget about the medical appointments etc. for just a short period each week.”
The Biography team:
“Yes it is sad, but also incredibly humbling, rewarding and joyous. It’s sadder to think that the person might die without their story being recorded. People on palliative care are not just ‘people who are dying’, they are people who have had lives. They are at a difficult point in their life, but they have a right to have all the ‘living’ remembered and respected.
“Of course this work can be sad. But this sadness is more than balanced by the joy and satisfaction we volunteers experience from helping someone complete their life story – and in doing so, create a wonderful legacy for their families and friends. It is a privilege to be part of this important work.”
“Engaging and connecting deeply with clients who share the story of their life with you is fulfilling, enlightening and such a privilege. I cherish these small moments of connection.”
“ You feel for all involved but it’s truly a privilege to be invited to share a person’s last chapter of their life. All barriers are usually down and there’s a frank honesty with the client and family that they are prepared to share with you.”
Do Volunteers Have to Wear a Uniform?
No. All you need is a smile and an identification tag provided by EPC.
Any Further Questions?
Please call us on 1300 130 813 and ask to speak with a member of the Volunteer Services team. We’re passionate about finding the right role for our volunteers and would love to chat with you!