The Karuna Hospice Service

Using Our Volunteers' Respite Service

. . . a guide for families


What is the service?

The Karuna respite service is designed to make caring for your loved ones at home easier by giving you a break from time to time, to do the things you need to do.

Who are the volunteers?

Volunteers are men and women from many different backgrounds and age groups. They share their time with you and your family in a warm and friendly manner. They have undergone an intensive training program to help them fulfill their primary role of companionship; but they are not medically trained. All volunteers are covered by insurance while they are in your home.

Volunteers assistance involves a range of activities which may include:

  • act as a caring companion
  • read aloud
  • write letters
  • run messages/go shopping
  • assist a nurse or family member to move a person
  • fetch drinks, do light housework (by special negotiation)
  • assist in giving medication
  • light massage

  Volunteers may not:

  • measure out or give medication
  • give any kind of advice about treatment or medication
  • answer questions about a client’s condition
  • lift or move a client by themselves
  • interfere in family affairs
  • perform intimate hygiene procedures for clients

How often can they come?

This depends on two main factors:

  • how sick your loved one is
  • how many volunteers are available at the time

You may request a volunteer for mornings, afternoons, overnight or weekends (in shifts). Priority is always given to our sickest clients. Most of our families arrange a roster of family members and friends, and Karuna fills the gaps that they cannot fill. All rosters are negotiated according to need and availability, by the Co-ordinator of Volunteer Services.

What if I don’t like a volunteer?

Our Co-ordinator will attempt to find volunteers that will ‘suit’ you and your family. If you have a genuine complaint about a volunteer, please advise the Co-ordinator immediately of the reason, and we will attend to it.

What do I need to provide to volunteers?

  • clear directions on how you want them to help (this is always negotiable)
  • access to drinking water, tea, coffee facilities (Volunteers provide their own meals, but you may invite them to a meal if you wish.)
  • if volunteers are staying over night, a place to sleep where they can hear the person for whom they are caring.

What if Karuna cannot fulfill all my respite needs?

We will try our best to accommodate your needs. However, this is not always possible due to the great demands on our service. If family and friends are not available, others sources include:

  • Day Respite Centre at Mater Hospital
  • Community Health Centre in your area
  • Dial-an-Angel (fee-based)
  • Domicare (fee-based)
  • Other domiciliary nursing services listed in Yellow Pages.

How do I access the service?

Ring Karuna’s office on (07)3857 8555 and ask for the Co-ordinator of Volunteer Services. The co-ordinator will need a few days to arrange your roster, so please give as much notice as possible.

What if I have to cancel?

Please give as much time as possible for cancelled shifts. Our volunteers are extremely busy people, too. Most work full time or have family commitments and the time they share is very precious. If it is after office hours (9am to 5pm) please contact the nurse via the pager ((07)3834 8518) and request them to cancel the volunteer service.

Other queries

If you have any other questions, please feel free to contact the
Co-ordinator of Volunteer Services on (07) 3857 8555

or write to:

The Karuna Hospice Service,
P.O. Box 2020 Windsor, Queensland 4030 Fax: (07) 3857 8040