The Feasibility of Creating Partnerships Between Palliative Care Volunteers and Healthcare Providers to Support Rural Frail Older Adults and Their Families: An Integrative Review

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Background/Question:Volunteers are important in the support of frail older adults requiring palliative care, especially in rural areas. However, there are challenges associated with volunteer supports related to training, management and capacity to work in partnership with healthcare providers (HCP). This review addresses the question: What is the feasibility of a volunteer-HCP partnership to support frail older adults residing in rural areas, as they require palliative care?Methods:This integrative review identified ten articles that met the identified search criteria. Articles were appraised using the Critical Appraisal Skills Programme (CASP) checklists, designed for use across a range of quantitative and qualitative studies.Results:Studies were drawn from international sources to understand how volunteer roles vary by culture and organization; the majority of studies were conducted in North America. Studies varied in methodology, including quantitative, qualitative and educational commentary. Identified factors that were crucial to the feasibility of volunteer-HCP partnerships in rural areas included volunteer training dynamics, relationships between volunteers and HCP, and rural environmental factors.Conclusion:Preliminary evidence indicates that a volunteer-HCP palliative partnership is feasible. However, training policies/procedures, volunteer-HCP relationships, and rural specific designs impact the feasibility of this partnership. Additional research is needed to further establish the feasibility of implementing these partnerships in rural settings.

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