Negotiating the boundary between paid and unpaid hospice workers: A qualitative study of how hospice volunteers understand their work

Sarah E. Field-Richards, Antony Arthur

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: To explore the nurse–volunteer relationship in a day hospice.

Method: Underpinned by an interpretive approach, face-to-face semistructured interviews were conducted with 12 day hospice volunteers.

Findings: The nature and dynamics of the relationship between nursing staff and volunteers within the day hospice were characterized by increasing formality and changes in the division of labor, which challenged smooth working relationships.

Conclusions: Volunteers see their role as becoming increasingly formalized partly as a response to increasing administrative demands on hospice nurses. The willingness of volunteers to take on new roles is variable. For volunteers to feel secure and valued and working relationships to remain strong, the process of how boundaries between paid and unpaid workers are negotiated needs to be transparent.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)627-631
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicine
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2012


  • hospice
  • end of life care
  • volunteers
  • working relationships
  • quallitative data
  • interviews

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