By Debbie le Quesne

Army of volunteers offering 123m hours a year to caring

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Britain’s healthcare system is supported by an army of 1.9 million volunteers who dedicate 123 million hours each year to helping others.

That’s a remarkable couple of statistics and makes me feel proud of being British Society does care (well, some parts of it).

Research by charity Royal Voluntary Service (formerly WRVS) revealed this week that most ward nurses say time pressures force them to ‘ration’ their care, making the work of volunteers who provide vital support for patients more vital than ever.

And many Britons believe volunteers in hospitals would significantly impact on patient care – 55 per cent of people feel there would be fewer instances of patient neglect if there were more volunteers in hospitals.

Released to mark the contribution volunteers make as part of this year’s Volunteers’ Week (now running until June 7), the charity found that the contribution of Britain’s volunteers is worth more than £487million a year.

The contribution made by the charity’s 14,000 hospital volunteers is worth £2.75million alone.

Nearly two thirds (60 per cent) of Britons believe that volunteers play a vital role in the NHS, and 63 per cent agree that they provide essential emotional support to patients when doctors and nurses are stretched for time. However, more than half (54 per cent) said they feel the work of volunteers should be better utilised to help relieve the pressure on the health service.

Obviously the work of the RVS is well respected and I sincerely hope it is also valued.

Significantly the charity’s offering play a big part in enhancing domiciliary care and supports more than 100,000 older people each month so they can stay independent in their own homes for longer.

Through its army of more than 35,000 volunteers, the charity runs services such as Good Neighbours (companionship), Meals-on-Wheels and Books-on-Wheels that alleviate loneliness and help our older residents.

The service also provides practical support for older people who have been in hospital through its On Ward Befriending and Home from Hospital services.

Indeed, the organisation does sterling work. But I can’t let this opportunity go without mentioning the care industry’s other ‘volunteers’. Many of our care workers give over and above their contracted hours and volunteer their time to residents in care and nursing home settings to make their lives a little brighter. For all you do to make our industry more than just a job, thank you.

And thank you too to residential care friends’ groups – without you live would be the poorer.


Written by debbielq

June 3, 2014 at 11:54 am

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