Volunteers at The Princess Margaret

A volunteer at The Princess MargaretThis group of people are critical to the work that happens at The Princess Margaret on a daily basis – who are they? The 450 volunteers who generously give over 40,000 hours every year to assist patients and staff at The Princess Margaret.

Their ages and life experiences vary and the roles that they fulfill can range from providing clinical, patient or staff/administrative support as well as working at the information desk.

Each volunteer that you encounter at The Princess Margaret has passed through an extensive process of reference checks, orientation and training. Volunteers range anywhere from students, foreign trained professionals, homemakers, working professionals, individuals in career transition and retirees.

The commitment of the volunteer group at The Princess Margaret speaks to the high-demand placed on volunteers as well as the passion that volunteers have for their work. 

Volunteers at The Princess Margaret have a range of roles throughout the hospital, including:

  • Assisting clinic staff with various administrative tasks, as well as helping patients with general inquiries
  • Directing and escorting patients to different areas in the hospital – for example, from a doctor’s appointment to the radiation treatment area
  • Providing specialized support programs such as diversional activities for in-patients, refreshments for patients and family members who are waiting in clinics
  • In addition to clinics, volunteers assist in other areas of the hospital such as the Magic Castle; Patient and Family Library; the Prostate Centre; Wig Salon and the Pencer Brain Tumor Centre

Heather Hardie, Manager of Volunteer Resources feels very strongly that our volunteers are one of the contributing factors to The Princess Margaret being regarded as one of the Top 5 Cancer Research Centres in the world. She says that “providing volunteers with the support they need to build relationships with our patients, families, staff and each other is critical to our ability to attract and retain the exceptional volunteer community we have today and in the future. The value and role of our volunteers has never been more important and they are actively engaged in helping define their roles and playing an important part in The Princess Margaret’s future.”

To help The Princess Margaret increase its ability to address life with cancer for patients, and to increase the focus on the psychological, emotional, interpersonal and practical impacts of treatment, a specialized volunteer role called Healing Beyond the Body (HBB) was developed.

HBB volunteers are currently located in 14 clinics, three treatment areas, the inpatient floors and in numerous support areas such as the Patient and Family Library and ELLICSR. There are approximately 150 HBB volunteers who focus on providing psychosocial emotional support. These volunteers also assist patients and their families in connecting them with resources within the hospital and in the community. It is because of the specialized service that HBB volunteers provide, that they are required to undergo additional training to be able to address the various needs of patients.

Dhara Moddel is the Program Lead for Healing Beyond the Body and a Social Worker at The Princess Margaret. When asked about the impact of all of the volunteers at The Princess Margaret, she comments that, “HBB volunteers can help ease the anxiety experienced by patients and families by validating feelings and sharing information. The cancer journey can be very overwhelming and having someone to talk to and to listen, is so important. Volunteers also help patients become advocates in their own treatment – assisting them to prioritize and prepare a list of questions to ask their doctor.”

To all volunteers at The Princess Margaret – thank you for all that you do and for partnering with us to Conquer Cancer In Our Lifetime. The Princess Margaret couldn’t be one of the top 5 cancer research centres in the world without your ongoing commitment and support.

Learn more about becoming a volunteer at The Princess Margaret.