Impact on volunteer
There were many perceived impacts in regards to volunteers that centred on the benefits of social interaction. Social interaction was enjoyable and also socially rewarding. The act of volunteering itself was empowering and the opportunities and confidence building that volunteering could generate often had positive mental health impacts on the volunteers. For example, this social interaction often enabled some volunteers to transcend some of their own issues and enhance their wellbeing.
However, it was rarer for volunteers to talk about their own mental health or health benefits and they framed impact on themselves more in terms of enjoyability.
For some their engagement has continued beyond the end of their official volunteering role. Therefore, volunteers acknowledged a number of different types of impact on themselves and there was evidence of long-term impact as the relationships they had built continued over time. This links strongly with the perception that volunteers themselves are making an impact. Volunteers valued the impact their volunteering effort had on the person with dementia.
Selflessness was a key theme, volunteers acknowledged a two-way process where they also received an enjoyable experience and particularly liked the sense of feeling needed. A smaller number of volunteers expressed health related benefits from their volunteering activity but most acknowledge increasing feelings of wellbeing driven from the social interaction elements of volunteering.
I was quite depressed and I’d done social care at university and I’d worked with adults with a disability, so I just absolutely loved it. And I was looking for that kind of belief, that going out and just doing something for somebody else and really enjoying it, and not worrying about myself (Female volunteer, Stirlingshire).
So I befriended a couple and I still do that on a totally private, individual basis every now and then; take old so-and-so out for lunch, because I enjoy their company and it gives them another dimension as well (Female volunteer, Cumbria).
You can get somebody and it changes them. You see the change in them each week you come. Like if they’re withdrawn, they don’t like coming, eventually you begin to see them interact with others and that’s part and parcel how you enjoy it (Female volunteer, Stirlingshire).