The environment and setting of volunteer activities has often been overlooked. This project clearly shows that the volunteer’s setting and environment does have an impact.
Volunteering in dementia care occurs in a range of settings, with home and community environments the most prevalent; Volunteers often saw themselves as a ‘bridge’ between the networks of those living with dementia, and their carers; and key in providing comfort and consistency between different environments; The divisions between volunteers, carers and staff can be unclear. People living with dementia see everyone, as simply people in their network; The stigma attached to care homes still affects volunteers’ perceptions; Those with dementia who lived at home were often independent and protective of their space.
Points to Consider
- The role of volunteers, in different dementia care settings, could be widened to assist with the further bridging of networks;
- There is scope to develop more links for those living at home - without challenging independence;
- To help address the stigma attached to care homes more volunteers should be recruited in to this setting;
- There may be scope for housing associations to use volunteers to help support their tenants who are living with dementia.
Again we do not see the need to make such a clear division between people suffering from dementia and other disabilities. We consider a family which includes someone with dementia are all affected and we try to provide a bridge between the home and the community where there is support and activities which include all the family and giving them an opportunity for encounters with people with differing challenges. Our cafe tries to extend a family setting so people can feel and be socially included (Organisational Survey)
Best Practice Example
The Abbeyfield Society is one of the most successful housing organisations to utilise volunteers. It has encouraged over 4000 people (from within a home setting and beyond) to become active volunteers. Abbeyfield volunteers have won numerous national awards for supporting over 8000 older people, many of whom are living with dementia.