Focused discussion: How can volunteers help to reduce stress in health and care settings?

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Created by Debbie Ambrose
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18 April 2024 at 3:22pm
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10 April 2024

Bereavement service volunteers

  • One organisation also refers members of staff who have had a bereavement themselves to the service. As well as benefiting from the service, the staff now view the volunteers differently, understanding and appreciating what they bring to the service.
  • Most volunteers in this area will have lived experience.


End of Life companion volunteers

  • Volunteers can give family members a respite by sitting with the patient and allow staff to get on with the clinical care.
  • To stop volunteers from burning out, have a handover at the end of every session as well as regular well-being check-ins.

Example of volunteer services supporting staff wellbeing and reducing stress by helping provide more time to care - End of Life Companion for patients who had no family or friends to be with them and staff had little time. https://helpforce.community/connecting/news-stories/how-volunteer-to-career-restored-michelles-faith-in-humanity

Complementary therapist volunteers

  • Carers, staff, patients and volunteers would benefit.

"Does anyone have any experience implementing volunteers into a discharge service so that carers have someone to advocate for them? "

Please use this Forum for comments

Wellbeing zone volunteers

  • Volunteers support in the delivery of the zones taking care of the area.
  • The area could include a range of amenities. For example, massage machine, financial advice etc.


One off bespoke activity volunteer

  • Micro volunteering roles are popular with volunteers who cannot give their time regularly. The type of activity will depend on the skills and interests of the volunteers and can be for staff, patients and carers. A level of planning is required but it will enable a wide variety of activities.

For example:

  • Workshops: Digital design, flower pressing, knitting, sewing and art.
  • Outdoor/Indoor activities for fitness: Yoga, Pilates, touch rugby, walking football and walking netball.


Activity and chaplaincy volunteers in mental health settings

  • Patients engaging in creative activities can reduce levels of tension, violence and aggression.
  • Mindfulness and meditation sessions are appreciated by patients and staff.
  • Volunteers will have extra training on managing violence and aggression however, there is always a member of staff nearby to offer support.
  • Students (18+) studying for degrees in psychology often volunteer for this type of role.


Pets as Therapy (PAT)

  • This is a national charity that many hospitals, hospices and care homes use and is highly recommended. More information on PAT can be found here.


Patient discharge volunteers


How do we promote Volunteers to the teams as supportive tool instead of a burden?

  • There is not a quick fix as it takes time to build up relationships and trust within organisations.
  • The volunteer coordinator in Hull has been with a Trust for many years and has slowly built-up relationships with each ward one by one by starting small with one volunteer at a time on the ward.
  • Another Trust in York has the Chief Nurse as a Champion and through that she’s included working with volunteers in all the training. This has already started to have quite a big impact, as there is now at least one person in every team that has had that training. In addition, they now have many staff who started out as volunteers.

Example: Barts NHS have been working hard on getting clinicians on board and it's working! https://helpforce.community/connecting/news-stories/how-the-helpforce-insight-impact-service-helped-barts-health-nhs-trust-expand-their-volunteer-service


Volunteer support roles out in the community


Armed Forces Network

Forces Connect App

The easiest ways to access information and support for the Armed Forces community.

If anyone would like more information or assistance with this app, please contact Zoe Warner from the Gloucestershire Care Hub who is very happy to help.

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