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Report: Volunteering in Health and Social Care (Kings Fund)

Tags: Report, Guidance

8th November 2018



“Our recommendations:
We describe two scenarios for the future. In the best case scenario, volunteering could be an important part of a new, closer relationship between health services and the communities they serve. In the worst case scenario, service providers and commissioners face a loss of goodwill and growing tensions around the role of volunteers in service delivery.
To achieve the best case scenario, the critical role of volunteers in building a sustainable approach to health and social care must be acknowledged.

  • Service providers and commissioners should take a much more strategic approach towards volunteering, with a clear vision of how volunteers will help meet organisational objectives and benefit patients and the local community.
  • The value of volunteering needs to be better measured and articulated at all levels in the system. There is a striking lack of information about the scale or impact of volunteering in health and social care. Addressing this should be a priority.
  • Volunteering should be used as a means of improving quality rather than reducing short-term costs. The management of volunteering and supporting infrastructure should be adequately resourced or there is a risk it will not achieve its potential.
  • There is a need for clarity regarding the boundaries between professional and volunteer roles. Sensitivities around job substitution, real or perceived, need to be handled carefully.

In the current context, it is more important than ever to think strategically about the role of volunteering. The health and social care system will find it increasingly difficult to meet its objectives without doing so.