Asume, Motivate - Volunteering in Dementia

Understanding volunteers’ motivations to working in dementia care is essential to maintaining their enthusiasm.

The project revealed that feelings of altruism, and ‘giving back’ to communities were key incentives. The social interactions that emanated from volunteering made some feel part of a family.

Key Findings

  • Volunteer motivation links closely to personal and professional values, with feelings of altruism contributing to their self- identity;
  • Their personal enjoyment was key to what volunteers got back from their experience, and was linked to them ‘feeling needed’ - whilst providing a substitute for lost friendships;
  • The idea of giving back could be linked to feelings of guilt and debt;
  • Volunteers undertook learning and self-development contingent on their prior knowledge;
  • Support from volunteer agencies was important in building confidence.

Points to Consider

  • There is a need to communicate to volunteers about the importance of the role they play;
  • Volunteer agencies need to consider those motivated by feelings of guilt and debt and empower them by promoting the positive impact of volunteering;
  • Building longer-term opportunities that help develop stronger relationships and create more positive impacts needs to be a priority for volunteer agencies.

And I just thoroughly enjoyed it. So for me, being a volunteer…I was learning. I was giving…I was putting something back, ‘cause I really think that’s important. I feel that’s important. Gives you a purpose. And you’re contributing maybe to their lives. If you can come away thinking, today I made someone happy or made them smile or I touched them or I reached them, for me that’s a really important aspect of working with people with dementia. You respect that person and somehow you make some meaning. (Volunteer, Cumbria)

Best Practice Example

Dancing Recall, Cumbria

The NHS award-winning dance and movement programme ‘Dancing Recall’ is consistently reported as a successful organisation, for motivating volunteers in dementia care. Dancing Recall has a motivational approach to supporting its volunteers, providing appraisals and development opportunities. It was particularly successful in motivating people by matching their personal and professional attributes with relevant placements.