Feedback from organisations indicated that, generally speaking, the desired qualities for volunteers in dementia care are very similar to those for volunteers in other roles out with dementia care (see table 3).
- Table 3: Desired qualities of volunteers: The difference between volunteering to support people with dementia, their family members or carers and volunteering in other roles
|Rank||Volunteering in dementia care||Volunteering in other roles|
|3||Emotional skills (maturity)||Reliability|
|5||Experience of dementia||Emotional skills (maturity)|
|7||Availability||Relevant wider work experience|
|8||Relevant wider work experience||Communication skills|
|9||Experience as a carer||Previous experience of volunteering|
|10||Previous experience of volunteering||Experience as a carer|
However, this contrasted with the qualitative feedback from volunteers themselves who rated experience as a carer and of dementia as very important in this area. Often the link with dementia or caring roles were highly regarded by other carers and volunteers who had been through systems, structures and experiences before and “just get it”.
For some people their volunteering was supported by the skills and knowledge they had gained from other roles in their lives. Therefore, they were attracted to volunteering as a way to utilise and make use of those skills they had gathered over their lives. One male volunteer described using iPads to promote activities with people with dementia following a career as an engineer. Other volunteers had creative skills that could contribute to their volunteering role through poetry or singing. Many volunteers working with people with dementia and their carers have a professional background in health and social care. Volunteers noted the need to match the skills that a person has with their volunteering role. The findings indicate that developing opportunities related to their different skill sets will attract more volunteers.
I started with this Singing for the Brain group and realised also that because of my work as an adviser for music for the county there were a lot of activities and kinds of things which could parallel for people with dementia, and also for their carers. So I started with that and I’ve been with that I suppose for about four years. (Female Volunteer, Cumbria)
I say sometimes we’ll, sort of, do improvisations and things like that and it needs people to spark it off and generate the ideas, but it needs others who will take a lead but spark it before the others will join in. So, yeah, I get a chance there. It sounds big headed. I’m the, sort of, resident poet. So I’ll, sort of, do a poem sometimes to go with it. (Female Volunteer, Cumbria)