The Role of Volunteers in the Delivery of Social Care Services for Older People

By: Eleanor Johnson  

Faced with rising demand for services, cuts to health and social care funding, and recruitment difficulties, social care services are becoming more dependent on the use of volunteers in the provision of care to older people. Drawing upon findings from a study of the roles and experiences of volunteers in social care settings in England, this paper considers how volunteers are used in different social care settings and how their work is organised, managed, and delivered. Taking account of the financial and demographic context in which older people’s care provision takes place, we will consider how the roles and experiences of volunteers vary across the mixed economy of social care. Our findings indicate that volunteers are making a substantial contribution to the provision of care and support services for older people in England and, moreover, that social care organisations recognise the value of this contribution, particularly in terms of alleviating loneliness and isolation amongst the older population. Our findings also suggest, however, that working with volunteers in older people’s social care settings is most successful when it is formalised in terms of recruitment and training, and when the boundaries of the volunteer's role in care provision is clearly demarcated and maintained.

Social Care, Volunteers, Care Needs, Older People
Public Policy and Public Perspectives on Aging
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Eleanor Johnson

Senior Research Associate, School for Policy Studies, University of Bristol, United Kingdom
United Kingdom