At a time when health and care services have never been so stretched, nor staffing shortages so great, what is the appropriate role of volunteers? Fiona Liddell explores.
It has been said that volunteering ‘enables society to function as it should’. This in turn contributes to community wellbeing and the prevention of ill health and build up community resilience.
VOLUNTEERING IN THE COMMUNITY
In a paper prepared for discussion with the Minister for Health and Social Services, we gave some examples of volunteering within community, voluntary sector and local authority settings. All involve volunteers in providing low level care in the community, contributing to community resilience. We noted what kind of support structures and resources were required in each case to underpin successful volunteering.
Three particular examples were cited – one community based, one delivered by network of voluntary organisations and one embedded within a local authority.
EXAMPLES OF VOLUNTEERING
Cardi Care adopted the successful model of Solva Care into the community of Aberporth (an evaluation report is now available). Volunteers provide companionship and facilitate community engagement through activities and events. A part time co-ordinator manages volunteers, matches them to roles and tasks and acts as a point of contact.
In Cwm Taff, six voluntary organisations work together to offer befriending and enable social engagement across the whole health board area. Volunteers work with those over 50 and their family and carers, taking a structured and co-produced approach to support personal journeys of change. Voluntary Action in Merthyr Tydfil coordinates the project, which is funded with a Regional Integration Fund (RIF) grant.
In Denbighshire, volunteering which began during the pandemic to support people in the community is now mainstreamed within local authority provision. As part of the ‘edge of care’ team, within Adult Social Care Services and working closely with third sector partners, volunteers are matched to citizens to provide low level support. Their feedback helps to keep Adult Social Care practitioners updated and enables escalation of complex cases. The flexible and open minded approach of volunteers enables improved outcomes based on ‘what matters’ to citizens and carers.
You can read the briefing paper here.