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Vol 7, No 2 (2013)
Research paper
Published online: 2013-12-20
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Prisoners as hospice volunteers in Poland

Piotr Krakowiak, Agnieszka Paczkowska, Robert Witkowski
Medycyna Paliatywna w Praktyce 2013;7(2):55-64.

open access

Vol 7, No 2 (2013)
Original articles
Published online: 2013-12-20

Abstract

Creating programmes combining penitentiary area with hospice-palliative care and voluntary work in different countries is an interesting direction of implementing the ideals of hospice. The first part of this publication refers to the description of major initiatives for the reintegration of prisoners through hospice voluntary work. In 2009 Poland was awarded ‘The Crystal Scales of Justice’ thanks to a programme called ‘WHAT’ (hospice voluntary work as a tool of acceptance and tolerance for people leaving penal institutions). The project was aimed at social reintegration of prisoners through volunteering for a hospice located outside prison. The results of several years of satisfactory cooperation between the hospice and prison in Gdańsk were passed over to penitentiary counsellors and hospice teams in ten cities in Poland. The results of the initial research show that involving prisoners in a hospice team, where they face suffering and dying, improves their psychosocial functioning and the quality of team care. Thanks to the correctional programmes prisoners are currently working in 29 hospices and more than 70 nursing homes, helping patients in need of instant care. Moreover, the convicted from semi-open and open penal institutions are directed to volunteer for hospitals or children’s homes. In February 2012 a survey among the sentenced was conducted.

The purpose of the study: Its main objective was to characterize the meaning of life among prisoners doing voluntary work for a hospice, and convicts not involved in volunteering.

Method: In the study a short personal questionnaire together with the PIL (Purpose in Life) questionnaire by Crumbaugh and Maholic were used (Polish adaptation by Płużek) to examine the understanding of the meaning of life.

Results: Based on the results obtained it was found that most respondents have a high level of meaning of life. A qualitative analysis of the data suggests that experiences of hospice volunteering may affect the nature of understanding the meaning of life among the convicts.

Conclusions: Prisoners not involved in hospice volunteering are more focused on their current situation, leaving prison, having a family and money. They use conventional phrases to describe life and themselves. Prisoners who volunteer for hospices have further time perspectives, are realistic about their abilities, express more goals in life and use a wider variety of language to talk about life, suffering and themselves.

Abstract

Creating programmes combining penitentiary area with hospice-palliative care and voluntary work in different countries is an interesting direction of implementing the ideals of hospice. The first part of this publication refers to the description of major initiatives for the reintegration of prisoners through hospice voluntary work. In 2009 Poland was awarded ‘The Crystal Scales of Justice’ thanks to a programme called ‘WHAT’ (hospice voluntary work as a tool of acceptance and tolerance for people leaving penal institutions). The project was aimed at social reintegration of prisoners through volunteering for a hospice located outside prison. The results of several years of satisfactory cooperation between the hospice and prison in Gdańsk were passed over to penitentiary counsellors and hospice teams in ten cities in Poland. The results of the initial research show that involving prisoners in a hospice team, where they face suffering and dying, improves their psychosocial functioning and the quality of team care. Thanks to the correctional programmes prisoners are currently working in 29 hospices and more than 70 nursing homes, helping patients in need of instant care. Moreover, the convicted from semi-open and open penal institutions are directed to volunteer for hospitals or children’s homes. In February 2012 a survey among the sentenced was conducted.

The purpose of the study: Its main objective was to characterize the meaning of life among prisoners doing voluntary work for a hospice, and convicts not involved in volunteering.

Method: In the study a short personal questionnaire together with the PIL (Purpose in Life) questionnaire by Crumbaugh and Maholic were used (Polish adaptation by Płużek) to examine the understanding of the meaning of life.

Results: Based on the results obtained it was found that most respondents have a high level of meaning of life. A qualitative analysis of the data suggests that experiences of hospice volunteering may affect the nature of understanding the meaning of life among the convicts.

Conclusions: Prisoners not involved in hospice volunteering are more focused on their current situation, leaving prison, having a family and money. They use conventional phrases to describe life and themselves. Prisoners who volunteer for hospices have further time perspectives, are realistic about their abilities, express more goals in life and use a wider variety of language to talk about life, suffering and themselves.

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Keywords

prisoners’ hospice voluntary work, hospice-palliative care, the meaning of life, rehabilitation

About this article
Title

Prisoners as hospice volunteers in Poland

Journal

Palliative Medicine in Practice

Issue

Vol 7, No 2 (2013)

Article type

Research paper

Pages

55-64

Published online

2013-12-20

Bibliographic record

Medycyna Paliatywna w Praktyce 2013;7(2):55-64.

Keywords

prisoners’ hospice voluntary work
hospice-palliative care
the meaning of life
rehabilitation

Authors

Piotr Krakowiak
Agnieszka Paczkowska
Robert Witkowski

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