Vision for volunteering in health

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What did we do in this project?

The final report from this project was published in March 2013: Volunteering in health and care.

The project involved three main stages:

  1. A summary review of the literature in order to understand the value of volunteering to the volunteer, the patient or client, providers and commissioners, and the health sector as a whole.
  2. Qualitative analysis, using focus groups with volunteers and patients/users and semi-structured interviews with providers and commissioners, to reveal how perceptions of reform could change volunteering behaviours, and use of volunteers. This is supported by quantitative analyses looking at relevant trends in volunteering.
  3. Scenario analysis – a range of possible scenarios will be developed for how the future system – and volunteers' role in it – could develop. These scenarios will be tested and explored in a workshop, leading to recommendations on volunteering in the new health system.

This project was funded by the Department of Health and supported by an external advisory group.

    Why are we interested in this project?

    The Health and Social Care Act seeks to create a more competitive health and social care provider market, in which a wide range of organisations (public, private, social enterprise and voluntary) will be encouraged to deliver services.

    It is widely acknowledged that volunteers can add value in health and social care by providing timely and personalised support to often marginalised population groups. But the true extent of their activities in health and social care remains poorly documented, and the potential impact of the current reforms on volunteering is underexplored.

    The purpose of this project is to:

    • gain a greater understanding of the role, size, scope and value of volunteering in the health and social care sector
    • understand how health reform, particularly the potential changes in the types of organisations involved in providing health and social care, will impact on volunteering.

    The focus of the research is on how reform could affect the likely growth in NHS provision for volunteering from a range of organisations, such as social enterprises, foundation trusts and private sector providers.

    Download our volunteering in health literature review

    Main contacts for this piece of work

    This project was funded by the Department of Health and supported by an external advisory group.

    The external advisory group members are:

    • Olivia Butterworth, Voluntary Sector Partnerships and Big Society Team, Department of Health
    • Saffron Cordery, Director of Communications and Strategy, Foundation Trust Network
    • Mark Gamsu, Visiting Professor, Leeds Metropolitan University
    • Martin Green, Chief Executive, English Community Care Assocation
    • Angela Geer, Executive Director for Older People's Services, WRVS
    • Brenda Hennessy, Director of Patient Experience and Public Engagement, Addenbrookes, Cambridge
    • Richard Humphries, Senior Fellow, Social Care and Local Government, The King's Fund
    • Ceri Jones, Head of Policy and Research, Social Enterprise UK
    • Nick Ockenden, Director, Institute for Volunteering Research
    • Nicola Rosenberg, Policy Manager, NHS Confederation
    • Nikki Squelch, Head of Volunteering Development, Alzheimer’s Society