Evaluation of Abbeyfield Care Homes volunteering project
We’re working with the Abbeyfield Society as part of a pilot project to examine the impact of volunteering on older people (over 75s) living in residential settings, funded by the Big Lottery Fund. Through a 30 month, four stage project, we are exploring the positive health and mental wellbeing aspects of volunteering - encouraging active ageing and being healthier for longer - in the older old age group.
The Abbeyfield Society project involves support Resident Volunteers (RVs) who are living in Abbeyfield Society homes to volunteer both within the home and within the community. Each RV is supported by an Inspiration Volunteer (IV) from the community.
Through developing community activity the project will seek to challenge the assumptions that older age is purely about being a recipient of care and support (economic negative), rather than a value-based reciprocal relationship of giving and providing (economic positive), growing social capital and engaging with the intergenerational fairness debate.
The latest data from the Cabinet Office’s Community Life Survey shows that the younger old (65-74) make a substantial contribution to our communities with around a third (32%) formally volunteering at least once a month (2013-14). This number then declines to 21% for the 75 and overs with other survey data showing a further decline amongst the over 80s (Nazroo and Matthews, 2010). The evaluation aims to plug an important gap in evidence on how to successfully engage this age group in volunteering.
The evaluation has adopted both quantitative and qualitative methods including:
- RV surveys at 0 months, 3 months and 6 months after engagement including questions on wellbeing, social activity and social capital taken from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing and the Community Life Survey;
- IV surveys at project start up and project completion;
- Monitoring data exploring exactly what volunteers are doing;
- In-depth interviews with RVs, IVs and staff exploring the successes, challenges and impact of the programme.