A program to co-ordinate more than 100 volunteers for hospice and palliative care work on the North Shore will soon be run directly by Vancouver Coastal Health instead of by North Shore Family Services.
Family Services has run the volunteer program for the past 32 years on the North Shore, but was recently told the organization's $72,000 contract with Vancouver Coastal Health won't be renewed. The current contract ends March 31.
Julia Staub-French, executive director of North Shore Family Services, said the ending of the contract was a surprise and a disappointment. "We had been expecting to renew the contract," she said. "We felt like we had an excellent program."
The change means the volunteer co-coordinator for the local service organization will likely be out of a job.
"She's been highly thought of by the volunteers," said Staub-French. "We do not have an equivalent position available within the organization."
Vancouver Coastal Health managers are meeting with volunteers to explain the change to them. Some of the volunteers have voiced concern they won't have the same level of support under the new program. Currently, volunteers get a mentor for their first few months and have a monthly education and support meeting.
Deborah Lorimer, acting director for seniors, palliative care, oncology and hospice with Vancouver Coastal Health, said support for the volunteers will continue - although it may look slightly different.
The volunteer program itself is continuing, added Lorimer - only the co-ordination of those volunteers will change. "I've been doing a lot of talking with volunteers. They are valued," she said. "We're hoping all 110 will come back and sign up with us."
Lorimer said the change was made because Vancouver Coastal Health felt the program would be better handled "in house" - by the same co-ordinator who recruits and places about 500 volunteers in all public health care facilities on the North Shore.
To switch to the new system, Lorimer acknowledged volunteers will have to register with Vancouver Coastal Health, where they are covered by liability insurance, and go through some other red tape. But the volunteers will have access to more resources for training.