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The impact of volunteering on the volunteer: findings from a peer support programme for family carers of people with dementia

Charlesworth, G; Sinclair, JB; Brooks, A; Sullivan, T; Ahmad, S; Poland, F; (2017) The impact of volunteering on the volunteer: findings from a peer support programme for family carers of people with dementia. Health and Social Care in the Community , 25 (2) pp. 548-558. 10.1111/hsc.12341. Green open access

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Abstract

With an ageing population, there are increasing numbers of experienced family carers (FCs) who could provide peer support to newer carers in a similar care situation. The aims of this paper are to: (i) use a cross-sectional study design to compare characteristics of volunteers and recipients of a peer support programme for FCs of people with dementia, in terms of demographic background, social networks and psychological well-being; and (ii) use a longitudinal study design to explore the overall impact of the programme on the volunteers in terms of psychological well-being. Data were collected from programmes run in Norfolk, Northamptonshire, Berkshire and four London boroughs between October 2009 and March 2013. The volunteer role entailed empathic listening and encouragement over a 10-month period. Both carer support volunteers (N = 87) and recipient FCs (N = 109) provided baseline demographic information. Data on social networks, personal growth, self-efficacy, service use and well-being (SF-12; EuroQol Visual Analogue Scale; Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale; Control, Autonomy, Self-Realisation, Pleasure-19) were collected prior to the start of the intervention (N = 43) and at either 3- to 5 month or 10 month follow-up (N = 21). Volunteers were more likely than recipients of support to be female and to have cared for a parent/grandparent rather than spouse. Volunteers were also more psychologically well than support recipients in terms of personal growth, depression and perceived well-being. The longitudinal analysis identified small but significant declines in personal growth and autonomy and a positive correlation between the volunteers' duration of involvement and perceived well-being. These findings suggest that carers who volunteer for emotional support roles are resilient and are at little psychological risk from volunteering.

Type: Article
Title: The impact of volunteering on the volunteer: findings from a peer support programme for family carers of people with dementia
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1111/hsc.12341
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/hsc.12341
Language: English
Additional information: This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Charlesworth, G; Sinclair, JB; Brooks, A; Sullivan, T; Ahmad, S; Poland, F; (2016) The impact of volunteering on the volunteer: findings from a peer support programme for family carers of people with dementia. Health & Social Care in the Community, which has been published in final form at http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/hsc.12341. This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving. Access may initially be restricted by the publisher.
Keywords: Caregiver, carer, dementia, peer support, volunteer
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Clinical, Edu and Hlth Psychology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1474630
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