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Health and Social Care (Volunteering)

Volume 507: debated on Tuesday 16 March 2010

The Government have announced today the launch of a strategic vision for volunteering for health and social care. “Volunteering—involving people and communities in delivering and developing health and social care services” has been placed in the Library and copies are available for hon. Members from the Vote Office.

The vision is of a health and social care environment in which volunteering is encouraged and supported wherever it has the power to reduce inequality, enhance service quality or improve outcomes for individuals and communities. The strategic vision has been developed by the Department in consultation with a wide range of stakeholders from across the third sector, national health service and local government.

The Government’s emphasis for the future of health and social care is on better and more personalised services. “High Quality Care for All” urges the NHS to place quality at the heart of everything it does. “Putting People First” and the transformation of adult social care services increasingly place individuals in control of decisions about the services they receive and the resources that pay for them. These developments present new roles and opportunities for volunteering that complement services provided by the paid work force and engage the expertise of service users in the design and delivery of services.

Volunteers already make an enormous difference to the experience people have of the health and care services they come into contact with—making a huge contribution to almost every sphere of health and social care. Volunteering helps to create people-centred services; keeps people active, engaged and independent; and helps to meet the support needs of patients, carers and users of care services. It can and does contribute significantly to: quality, choice and innovation in services; building social capital and reduced isolation; enhancing the capacity of preventative care; meeting the culturally specific needs of health and social care service users; and increasing connections between citizens and the services they use.

Together these build a strong case for people across the health and social care system to refresh their thinking about volunteering and its role in their organisation or community. The strategic vision provides a starting point and an opportunity for leaders in this field to be at the forefront of service innovation, community engagement and improved user experience.

Articulating key messages and a framework for action in relation to leadership, partnership, commissioning, volunteer management, and support for individual volunteers, the vision is designed to engage everybody working in the health and social care system, in the public and third sectors, to support its aim to: enhance the profile and involvement of volunteers; highlight its potential in terms of health and well-being; improve the evidence base for investment; promote best practice; reduce obstacles and increase opportunities that make volunteering accessible to all; and inspire and enable change to support its delivery.