Introducing on-ward volunteers to work with patients with dementia
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Introducing on-ward volunteers to work with patients with dementia

Ann McDonnell Professor of health services research, Sheffield Hallam University
Jane McKeown Senior nurse, Sheffield Health and Social Care NHS Foundation Trust
Carol Keen Lead therapist, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Judith Palfreyman Senior staff nurse, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Nicola Bennett Research sister, National Institute for Health Research, Sheffield clinical research facility, Royal Hallamshire Hospital, Sheffield

Ann McDonnell and colleagues evaluate the effect that non-staff support had on an orthopaedic ward

This article reports on an evaluation of the effect of an on-ward volunteer service in an acute orthopaedic ward with a number of dementia patients. A mixed-methods evaluation was undertaken in 2012. This included interviews with individuals who have strategic, management, operational and clinical roles in the voluntary organisation and the NHS trust, focus group discussions with volunteers, non-participant observations of practice and focused conversations with ward staff. The service had a positive effect on patient experience. Patients were engaged through a variety of activities and enjoyed the volunteers’ presence. Staff valued the initiative because they could see the difference that it made to patients and their own working lives.

The lessons learned from the evaluation can inform the development of similar initiatives elsewhere and are relevant, given the emphasis in healthcare policy to improve patient experience.

Nursing Older People. 26, 4, 28-33. doi: 10.7748/nop2014.


Peer review

This article has been subject to double blind peer review

Conflict of interest

None declared

Received: 24 February 2014

Accepted: 24 March 2014

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