Why did we do this?
We know that thousands of volunteers are already giving their time to volunteer in their local hospital, helping to transform the lives of patients and their carers. When they do, anecdotal evidence suggests this is both beneficial for the patient and the volunteer.
We wanted to work with hospital trusts as they expand their volunteering service and support them to measure their impact more effectively, and share their learnings and good practices with others.
We were drawn to a pioneering group of hospitals, including King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, London who use simple and smart techniques to increase the impact of their volunteers such as:
- Asking nurses what jobs they wish they had time to do that volunteers could help with (usually things like holding a patient’s hand to reassure them before surgery)
- Training volunteers in specialist skills (like reminiscence games for patients on dementia wards)
- Developing hospital-to-home services to support patients to settle in successfully at home
We think that social action can play a significant role in improving the experience that patients and their friends and families have within hospitals, and potentially patients’ outcomes. Helping in Hospitals worked with 10 hospital trusts to help them build significant impact volunteering programmes. This included increasing both the scale and scope of volunteering in hospitals. These impact volunteering roles are ones that have a direct and measurable impact on patients, and which also get the most out of volunteers.
- Thirty per cent of all outcomes measured produced a statistically significant positive result.
- Of those hospital trusts that measured patient mood, nutrition and hydration levels and releasing time to care, the majority found statistically significant positive results while for the remaining hospital trusts no effects were found.
- Of those hospital trusts that measured patient experience and anxiety levels, some of the hospital trusts found statistically significant positive results, while for others no effects were found.
- Of those hospital trusts that measured readmissions, length of stay, delayed transfer of care and number of falls, no effects were found.
- No hospital trusts found any statistically significant negative effects
Read the full report and for further guidance about setting up and measuring hospital volunteering programmes, check out our toolkit.
Helping in Hospitals was funded by both the Cabinet Office and Department of Health and led by Nesta. We partnered with The Social Innovation Partnership (TSIP) who supported all the hospital trusts to measure this impact and generate evidence that expands the sector’s knowledge on effective hospital volunteering programmes.
Trusts funded by the Cabinet Office
The Cabinet Office funded six hospital trusts with up to £100,000 each over 18 months since August 2015:
- Barts Health NHS Trust
- Cambridge University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
- Derbyshire Community Health Services NHS Trust
- Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
- Kingston Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
- Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Trusts funded by the Department of Health
The Department of Health funded four hospital trusts with up to £50,000 each over 12 months since May 2015. The aims were to expand the reach and impact of youth volunteering schemes, and to share the evidence of the impact that volunteering has had on patients and their families. The trusts are:
- Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust
- University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust
- Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
- The Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS Trust