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Case study: matching volunteer befrienders to care home residents

One-to-one volunteer support. Creating resident profiles. Working with paid staff. Volunteer retention.

Issues you faced

It had been a challenge to match volunteer befrienders to residents which led to difficulties in retention. In response, working closely with care home managers, Voluntary Action Oldham developed a personalised approach to match the interests of volunteers with those of residents.

Actions you took

Care home managers identified residents who wanted long-term befrienders. They developed profiles of residents which included interests, background and ability.

We created a form for prospective volunteers to ask them about their interests. Using this information, we matched volunteers to residents, to make long lasting matches.

We supported volunteers on their first visit to a resident and encouraged them to research the resident’s interests before this first meeting. 

Positive outcomes

As a result of this personalised approach we found care home staff were a lot more confident in the scheme. They knew who to expect on a regular basis, and how residents would be supported. They could plan how to better meet the needs of other residents.

Our recruitment process is now a lot more successful with volunteers staying on long-term and sometimes befriending more than one resident at a time.

Negative outcomes

We identified the need to offer residents the option to consider volunteer profiles and to decide which volunteer they would like to see. As the scheme is about improving the quality of life of residents it is important residents have an opportunity to choose the volunteer befriender they prefer.

Lessons learnt

Residents had an improved volunteer experience, receiving one-to-one support with someone who shared their interests.

Care home staff reported emotional and physical improvements to the wellbeing of residents who met with befrienders.

Volunteers have reported feeling happier, more confident and less lonely as a result of volunteering on a one-to-one basis.

Page last edited Mar 14, 2016

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