Spotlight on: Strathcarron Hospice’s Compassionate Neighbours

Everyone, no matter what stage in life, needs a friend. That is why the Strathcarron Hospice compassionate neighbour volunteer programme provides practical and emotional support for people with life-limiting conditions and their carers.

The volunteers at Strathcarron know that palliative care and end of life support is not just about the last days and hours of life, but helping to maintain quality of life for the person and their family at every moment from the point o f diagnosis.

The Compassionate Neighbours Programme takes a de-medicalised approach to care. Its volunteers are focused on ‘being there’ for people experiencing life-limiting conditions and their carers. By focusing on meaningful social interactions and practical advice, the volunteers support people to live well right up to the end. The programme also aims to combat loneliness, which is known to be damaging to physical and mental health, contributing to lower quality of life.

While these volunteers are known as ‘compassionate neighbours’, many of the people supported by them simply refer to them as friends. As well as providing a friendly listening ear and a bit of welcome chat, the volunteers offer:

  • Support and advice in a comfortable and non-clinical environment, such as the person’s home or while out and about over a cup of coffee or a walk.
  • Open conversations about planning for the later stages of their life, including anticipatory care planning.
  • Helping people with long term conditions, and their carers, to connect with community activities.
  • An opportunity for the persons full-time carer to take a break.
  • Practical support with small tasks, which can be as simple as changing a lightbulb.

The compassionate neighbour volunteers are trained by Strathcarron and are matched with people based on interests, suitability, and location. The match-up system is designed to make friendships natural, so that both sides of the relationship benefit.

Anyone can refer themselves to the programme or be introduced by a friend, family member or GP who thinks they might benefit.

There are currently 112 Compassionate Neighbours actively supporting people in the community.

Strathcarron is a charity providing specialist end of life care for people in Forth Valley, Cumbernauld and Kilsyth. The charity provides support free of charge wherever and whenever it is needed – in peoples’ homes, in hospitals and care homes, and in its Hospice in Denny. The compassionate neighbours project is funded by Falkirk Health and Social Care Partnership grant funding.

You can contact the Compassionate Neighbour programme by email on 

Pictured: One of Strathcarron’s 112 Compassionate Neighbour volunteers, Jean, visiting Norman at home. Note: This in-house visit followed guidance as per local coronavirus protection levels at the time.

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