Exploring the role of volunteers in social care for older adults

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This paper reports the findings of a study that explores the contribution volunteers make to
social care for older adults, identifying lessons for the social care sector as well as policy makers.

An exploratory multiple case study design was used to capture the perspectives and experiences of managers of services, volunteer co-ordinators, volunteers, paid care staff and older people. Seven diverse social care organisations took part in the study drawn from three locations in the south west of England.

The study identified three distinct models of volunteer contribution to social care services for older people. While the contributions made by volunteers to services are valued, the study drew attention to some of the challenges related to their involvement.

Research limitations/implications
The organisations taking part in this small-scale study were all based in the South West of
England and the findings are therefore not generalizable but contribute to the growing
evidence base related to this important field.

Practical implications
The study demonstrates the importance of the volunteer co-ordinator role and suggests that it is properly funded and resourced. It also confirms the importance of volunteers receiving appropriate training and support.

Given the increasing involvement of volunteers in the provision of social care, this article provides lessons to ensure the role of volunteers in social care enhances rather than diminishes the quality of care provided.
Original languageEnglish
JournalQuality in Ageing and Older Adults
Publication statusPublished - 17 Jun 2020

Structured keywords

  • SPS Centre for Research in Health and Social Care


  • volunteers
  • older
  • people
  • social
  • care
  • austerity


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