Busselton Hospice Care Inc is encouraging the community to consider volunteering, as many staff members are currently working overtime to cope with a 19 per cent drop in volunteer numbers. Founded in 1989, the Hospice is 100 per cent funded by community donations and fundraising to develop ongoing funding streams that will support the sustainability of palliative care volunteer models in the future. Like many organisations in the South West, the hospice relies on its volunteers to provide essential company to the people they service. Busselton Hospice Care Inc chief executive James Jarvis said it had become clear that people were choosing to volunteer in different capacities following the COVID-19 pandemic. “As a result we’re struggling to keep up with the demand for our free services for palliative patients, their caregivers, and bereaved individuals,” he said. “Particularly the demographic that used to volunteer for us they’re not volunteering so much anymore, because COVID had this impact, which is like we’ve only got one life, so we’re gonna go and live it.” The 19 per cent decline was cited in the 2021 census for the past seven years. A variety of studies show that not only recipients benefit from volunteer support, but people who volunteer also typically experience boosted health, happiness, and life satisfaction. Hospice volunteers are involved in wide range of different activities and roles, which help the community with planning their end of life. With a growing population and increased life expectancy from life-limiting conditions, financial support is essential to help the Busselton community live well, die well and grieve well. “Our volunteers make sure people get quality services around end of life for those who have been diagnosed with a life-limiting illness, or people who are living with a life-threatening illness,” Mr Jarvis said. “We have a group who go into the hospital to the hospice ward and they work alongside the clinical team to provide social and emotional support. “We also have an increasing bereavement support team and we’re one of the only organisations that do bereavement support.” People who volunteer at the hospice are provided with education surrounding supportive communication skills, palliative care and grief, and learn more about life and the difficult experiences that are not often talked about. Busselton Hospice Care Inc was recently named best regional organisation at the Community Services Excellence Awards presented by WA Council of Social Service. “Volunteers give the gift of their time providing a listening ear, compassionate emotional support, comforting presence supporting social connections,” Mr Jarvis said. “They are essential in the palliative care team, complementing the role of the health professionals.” Currently there are several roles are available with different levels of training and flexible scheduling is available to fit in with work, hobbies, and family commitments. “I encourage people that are compassionate, nurturing, and understand that end-of-life care is about other people,” Mr Jarvis said.