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Volunteering Innovators Programme

Working with a range of NHS trusts across England, with funding from NHS England and NHS Improvement and Royal Voluntary Service, the programme developed and tested a wide array of volunteering innovations across the patient pathway. The aim was to produce evidence of the impact that the innovations made on people and services, and a set of volunteering service guides to help other NHS Trusts adopt and benefit from these innovations.

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Accelerating the growth and impact of volunteering

Our evidence clearly indicates that when NHS Trusts invest in their volunteer services, there are rich rewards for staff, patients, hospitals, and the volunteers themselves. This summary report looks at the overall impact that this programme’s evidence and findings have on the NHS.

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Evidence findings

A key ambition of the Volunteering Innovators Programme was to improve the evidence base around health volunteering and prove measurable benefits for patients, staff, volunteers, and services.

By collecting and analysing a large amount of data from the NHS Trusts involved, Helpforce compiled a detailed report which shares the key findings from the evidence, that shows how volunteering is making a difference.

Find out about the Volunteering innovations

We have developed Volunteering Service Guides for nine of the innovations funded by NHS England & Improvement. The guides share detailed information and learning, considerations and benefits of the service to an organisation looking to adopt and adapt one of the volunteering innovation services.

Evidence from the two Royal Voluntary Service funded projects can be found in the Key Findings report.

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Barts Health NHS Trust

Active Response Volunteers

A team of volunteers trained to complete specific tasks in response to the fluctuating needs of a busy hospital such as ‘Pharmacy runs’ to help save staff time.

Volunteering Service Guide
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Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust

Restraint Debrief Service

Volunteers with lived experience deliver debrief sessions with patients suffering from severe mental ill health, when they have had to be restrained

Volunteering Service Guide
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Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

Theatre Support Volunteers

Volunteers provide a support role focused on alleviating anxiety and providing emotional support before, during and after undergoing medical eye procedures in a clinical theatre environment.

Volunteering Service Guide
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Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Discharge Support

In order to reduce readmissions up to 72 hours, the Trust’s ‘Settle in’ service supports vulnerable patients with transport from hospital, settling in at home, before handing over to local community support.

Volunteering Service Guide
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North Tees and Hartlepool Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Discharge Support

The Trust's ‘Home but not Alone’ volunteer service supports vulnerable patients on the ward and throughout their discharge from hospital, support continues in the patients home for up to 28 days.

Volunteering Service Guide
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Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

End of life Care

Volunteers working alongside staff to provide companionship to patients, who are approaching the end of life that may otherwise die alone, and give support to families and carers.

Volunteering Service Guide
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Salford Care Organisation - Northern Care Alliance NHS Group

Mealtime Support

Volunteers support patients with a variety of specific meal time tasks that help to improve the wellbeing of patients and reduce the risk of malnutrition and dehydration.

Volunteering Service Guide
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Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust

Adult and Older Adult Companionship

The Trust's Engage service provides companionship and cognitive stimulation to vulnerable patients in order to reduce anxiety and improve mood and overall wellbeing.

Volunteering Service Guide
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Sandwell & West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust

Activity & Mobility Support

Volunteers help patients maintain existing levels of mobility and independence while staying in hospital by encouraging them to go for walks, get dressed into day clothes, or engage in chair based activity or exercise, to reduce the risk of deconditioning whilst in hospital.

Volunteering Service Guide
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University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust

Activity Support and Mobility, programme funded by Royal Voluntary Service

Volunteers support patients with mobility, nutrition and hydration, to reduce the risk of deconditioning, malnutrition and dehydration whilst at home in the community.

View Key Findings
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St James's University Hospital

Mobility Volunteers, programme funded by Royal Voluntary Service

Volunteers support patients with mobility, nutrition and hydration, to reduce the risk of deconditioning, malnutrition and dehydration whilst in hospital.

View Key Findings

Please note: Volunteering Service Guides have not been developed for the two projects funded by the Royal Voluntary Service, and another project (funded by NHS England & Improvement) with Dorset HealthCare University NHS Foundation Trust was delayed and moved into another national programme on End of Life Care, which is ongoing.