What is a volunteer?

Little Haven volunteers meet for morning tea to celebrate Little Haven Week

“Volunteers don’t get paid, not because they’re worthless, but because they’re priceless” – Sherry Anderson

Volunteering is an activity which takes place through not-for-profit organisations and is undertaken:

  • to be of benefit to the community and the volunteer;
  • of the volunteer’s own free will and without coercion;
  • for no financial payment; and
  • in designated volunteer positions only.

Principles of Volunteering

  • Volunteering benefits the community and the volunteer;
  • Volunteer work is unpaid;
  • Volunteering is always a matter of choice;
  • Volunteering is not compulsorily undertaken to receive pensions or government allowances;
  • Volunteering is a legitimate way in which citizens can participate in the activities of their community;
  • Volunteering is a vehicle for individuals or groups to address human, environmental and social needs;
  • Volunteering is an activity performed in the not for profit sector only;
  • Volunteering is not a substitute for paid work;
  • Volunteers do not replace paid workers nor constitute a threat to the job security of paid workers;
  • Volunteering respects the rights, dignity and culture of others

When you volunteer at Little Haven you:

  • choose to give your skills and time
  • help out Little Haven and the work we do
  • get something out of it yourself
  • do it unpaid
  • nominate for a specially assigned volunteer role
  • be involved in what’s happening

Why volunteering is so important

  • it empowers individuals
  • it adds value to not-for-profit organisations
  • it strengthens communities
  • it is worth billions to our community

Who benefits?

  • the individual volunteeryou gain fun, friends, new skills, work experience and best of all, that sense of achievement in giving something back to your community
  • the not-for-profit-organisation
  • the patients’ family
  • the community

If you’d like to apply to become a Little Haven volunteer please click here

Craig Lena joined the Management Committee of Little Haven in 2009 taking on the position of Treasurer. During the day, Craig works for Madills and despite having a young family he makes time as a volunteer to keep an eye on Little Haven's current and projected financial viability

The Value of Volunteers

When you talk about values, it’s important to define what type of value you are using as a measure of performance. At Little Haven Palliative Care, the value of volunteering is more than monetary.

Little Haven’s on-call 24-hour service is invaluable to those terminally ill people in our community who wish to remain at home because, given the choice, most of us would prefer to die at home in familiar surroundings with our loved ones rather than in a hospital bed.

As well as managing the control of pain and other symptoms, Little Haven works to meet the psychological, social, emotional and spiritual needs of our patients through our support services, counselling, bereavement support, complementary therapies, education and advice as well as a range of medical equipment which is loaned free of charge to support those who wish to stay at home in familiar surroundings. Little Haven’s mission is to provide in-the-home on-call palliative care nursing & equipment 24 hours a day at no charge to the patient or the patient’s family.

Although Little Haven receives referrals from local general practitioners, specialists, discharge planners from both public and private hospitals, word of mouth or from the patients themselves, it is the policy of this organisation that we do not charge for any of the services we offer as we feel that a patient is facing enough trauma in their lives in coping with their illness, the cost of treatment & medication and eventual death, that they should not be denied compassionate palliative care because of their financial situation. This is the value that Little Haven puts on being able to provide compassionate care and living support, to those in our community diagnosed with a life-threatening illness.

It’s hard to put a value on quality of life, although so many of us prefer home to hospitals at such a significant time current funding from the Queensland Government has remained virtually unchanged despite a marked growth in our service over recent years. In monetary terms, Little Haven receives about 30% of its funding from government sources. Most of our budget is used for nurses’ wages and our annual short-fall is met through donations and fund-raising. It is through the generosity of the Cooloola community and our volunteer fundraising body that we make up the deficit, year after year. Little Haven volunteers run a year-long calendar of functions and fundraisers, from raffles to Gympie’s famous Camel Races, and half-day street stalls to the mammoth organisation of the annual book sale. Our administrative fundraising costs are kept to a minimum due to the participation of our 100+ volunteers.

The cost of administration is another way to measure the value of a service. Qld health and indeed many health providers throughout the Western World, operate on a 25 : 75 division of money. One quarter of money spent goes to provide actual services, while up to three quarters of the budget is spent on organising the provision of services, or administrative costs. Yet here in regional Queensland, through stringent management, hardworking staff and Little Haven’s 100 plus volunteers, we are able to ensure that well over 75% of our operating budget is spent on direct “hands on” care, with less than 25% spent on administrative and operating expenses.

This is quite an achievement, when you consider that Little Haven offers an on-call, 24-hour-a-day, 7-day-a-week, 52-weeks-a-year at-home professional palliative care nursing service over a large geographic area. The area covered is quite significant, being 3000 sq kms from past the Gunalda range to the north, west to Woolooga, east to Tin Can Bay & Rainbow Beach and south to Pomona as well as the environs of Gympie City.

Then there is the value of community spirit to be considered.  In the last year our Little Haven nurses assisted 118 people with palliative care needs and 150 with bereavement support.  The benefit to our patients of providing a mobile palliative care service is indescribable, when centre based care can often be impractical and impossible especially for those who are nearing the end of their life.  To be able to die at home surrounded by loved ones is extremely important to many of our patients.

Finally, there is the actual monetary value of Little Haven’s service that is provided free-of-charge to our patients. Our service benefits not only the patient, their family and friends but the whole community as it allows a greater range of treatment options.  It also frees up hospital beds which are in constant demand.

However you stack up the benefits to be counted, the value of our Little Haven volunteers to our wider community is beyond price.”

Reprinted from The Gympie Times, 15 May 2010