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Public responses to volunteer community care: Propositions for old age and end of life

Tapp, Alan; Nancarrow, Clive; Morey, Yvette; Warren, Stella; Bowtell, Nicola; Verne, Julia

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Yvette Morey
Associate Director - Student Academic Journey

Nicola Bowtell

Julia Verne


Funding shortages and an ageing population have increased pressures on state or insurance funded end of life care for older people. Across the world, policy debate has arisen about the potential role volunteers can play, working alongside health and social care professionals in the community to support and care for the ageing and dying.

The authors examined self-reported levels of care for the elderly by the public in England, and public opinions of community volunteering concepts to care for the elderly at the end of life. In particular, claimed willingness to help and to be helped by local people was surveyed.

A sample of 3,590 adults in England aged 45 or more from an online access panel responded to a questionnaire in late 2017. The survey data was weighted to be representative of the population within this age band. Key literature and formative qualitative research informed the design of the survey questionnaire, which was further refined after piloting.

Preferences for different models of community volunteering were elicited. There was a preference for ‘formal’ models with increased wariness of ‘informal’ features. Whilst 32% of adults said they ‘might join’ depending on whom the group helped, unsurprisingly more personal and demanding types of help significantly reduced the claimed willingness to help. Finally, willingness to help (or be helped) by local community carers or volunteers was regarded as less attractive than care being provided by personal family, close friends or indeed health and care professionals.

Findings suggest that if community volunteering to care for elderly people at the end of life in England is to expand it may require considerable attention to the model including training for volunteers and protections for patients and volunteers as well as public education and promotion. Currently, in England, there is a clear preference for non-medical care to be delivered by close family or social care professionals, with volunteer community care regarded only as a back-up option.


Tapp, A., Nancarrow, C., Morey, Y., Warren, S., Bowtell, N., & Verne, J. (2019). Public responses to volunteer community care: Propositions for old age and end of life. PLoS ONE, 14(7), Article e0218597.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jun 5, 2019
Online Publication Date Jul 1, 2019
Publication Date Jul 1, 2019
Deposit Date Jun 7, 2019
Publicly Available Date Jun 10, 2019
Journal PLoS One
Electronic ISSN 1932-6203
Publisher Public Library of Science
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 14
Issue 7
Article Number e0218597
Keywords survey of public, end of life care, community, social marketing
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Copyright Statement
© 2019 Tapp et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

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