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Case study on Managing a volunteer when the volunteering role doesn’t meet expectations

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Presented at the Midlands Learn and Share event, 25th February 2015, by Nickie Edwards from Shropshire RCC and Jo Edge, project volunteer, as part of NCVO's Volunteering in Care Homes Project: https://www.ncvo.org.uk/practical-support/volunteering/volunteering-in-care-homes

Background

 A volunteer made an enquiry through the Do-it website about the opportunity for a ‘Reading Group Volunteer’ that was advertised at a local care home as part of the Volunteering in Care Homes project.

The volunteer completed the induction training and, whilst awaiting her DBS certificate to come through, took part in group activities in the home supported by the Activities Co-ordinator which she really enjoyed.

 

Issue(s) we faced

 After the DBS clearance had come through, the volunteer started reading with one of the residents. The volunteer had originally thought that she would be reading to a group of residents but by the time she was placed, the residents who had expressed an interest in this activity were no longer at the home.

The volunteer was disappointed with the turn of events which was exacerbated by her discomfort at having to meet with the resident in her room. The volunteer didn’t want this intensive one to one relationship and neither did she feel she could commit to weekly visits.  The volunteer was concerned that she could not meet the expectations of the role and was anxious about disappointing the resident.

 

What we did

 The volunteer raised her concerns with the Volunteer Co-ordinator and it was suggested that she should take part in group activities at two of the local care homes in the project. The volunteer was given the details of the time and place of the activities so she could choose which ones to attend. The Volunteer Co-ordinator arranged for her to meet with one of the care home managers to discuss her role.

During this meeting, the Care Home Manager teased out of the volunteer her passion for flower arranging. As the Care Home Manager was aware that some of the residents had enjoyed this pastime before coming into the home, the Manager suggested to the volunteer that she could run flower arranging workshops for the residents. This suggestion thrilled the volunteer.

 

What went well and why

 Through exploring with the volunteer her other interests and skills and combing this information with the Care Home Manager’s knowledge of the residents, we were able to arrive at a volunteer role that would meet both the needs of the residents and the motivations of the volunteer. Additional volunteers were recruited to supporting roles so that residents had more volunteers to chat to whilst taking part in the activity.

 

What could have gone better and why

It was by chance that we managed to secure a role for the volunteer that she found motivating and which met the needs of the residents. As a result of our learning we have introduced a generic volunteer role description, which covers a range of activities that the volunteers can take part in including one-to-one befriending, craft sessions, Boccia etc.

We also identify the skills and interests of the volunteers at the recruitment stage, usually during the initial enquiry or during the interview so this information is to hand when considering the volunteer/resident match.

 

Outcomes and impact

The residents have been enthusiastic about taking part in the flower arranging activities;  for some it had rekindled an interest in flower arranging from their past.

One lady told us about her trips with school to pick wild flowers and she said they would then go back to the classroom and arrange them.  

A couple of residents were not very confident about their abilities and kept saying that they weren't very good at flower arranging. By offering encouragement and praise for their efforts, they seemed to get a feeling of achievement and pleasure out of the activity.

They all had something to take back to their rooms and were asking when the volunteer was coming again because they had enjoyed the session so much.

 

The volunteer said of her experience, “I was initially drawn to the idea of a reading group at the care home but when this didn't get off the ground I agreed to help out with other activities such as bingo and arts and crafts.  However at one of the care homes, where the residents had severe degrees of dementia, it was difficult to have conversations with them and so I did not get a sense of making a real difference to their well-being. At another care home, the residents were less poorly. I felt immediately comfortable with the residents. Communication was somewhat easier and I derived a great deal of personal satisfaction from seeing the pleasure that the session seemed to be giving everyone. The atmosphere was upbeat and positive.  I was grateful for the support of other volunteers from the project and the Activities Coordinator.  I think we have made a big difference because we were able, between us, to give more personal attention to each participant”. 

 

Page last edited Jun 23, 2015

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