The increasing numbers of aging and chronically ill prisoners incarcerated in Western nations is well-documented, as is the growing need for prison-based palliative and end-of-life care. Less often discussed is specifically how end-of-life care can and should be provided, by whom, and with what resources. One strategy incorporates prisoner volunteers into end-of-life services within a peer-care program. This article reports on one such program based on focused ethnographic study including in-depth interviews with inmate hospice volunteers, nursing staff, and corrections officers working in the hospice program. We describe how inmate volunteers learn hospice care through formal education and training, supervised practice, guidance from more experienced inmates, and support from correctional staff. We discuss how emergent values of mentorship and stewardship are seen by volunteers and staff as integral to prison hospice sustainability and discuss implications of this volunteer-centric model for response-ability for the end-of-life care of prisoners.
- end of life
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Community and Home Care
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health