04 NHS Volunteer Sustainability



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NHS volunteer sustainability


How can we achieve volunteer sustainability? This is based on the findings of an independent evaluation by ICHP.


Ask everyone how it’s going. Patients, staff and volunteers.


Share what you have learnt. We’d love to hear from you.

Our top tips for volunteer retention
Make sure that you look after your volunteers, because they want to give their time to support others.
Do ensure that they have a good induction and check in with them regularly.
Don’t be ambiguous about what the role entails and not communicate regularly.
We’re pretty keen to share our experience and would love to see how you have got on.

Time needed: 5 minutes

How to make the NHS Volunteering programme sustainable.

  1. Firstly, make sure you thank your amazing volunteers!

    Recognise volunteers to keep retention high: e.g. through thank you calls with staff, by letting them know how impactful their support was, or by finding new ways to involve the most motivated volunteers.

  2. Measure volunteer satisfaction.

    Continue measuring volunteer satisfaction through regular surveys (e.g. every 3-6 months) and/or feedback calls.

  3. Monitor volunteer career progression

    Above all, you must ensure that you help the volunteers to gain what they need from the programme. For example some may need to gain certain skills or understanding of how the NHS Works from a career perspective. We’re pleased to share that many have gone on to work in the NHS because of their experience as a volunteer, and others are considering this.

  4. Measure patient feedback

    Always measure patient impact in order to assess the value of the volunteer project.

  5. Resource

    Be realistic about resources in the long-term – as you introduce new projects, it is important to re-assess how many hours are being invested by practice staff compared to volunteer hours.

  6. Finally, share learning.

    Share learnings frequently with staff, volunteers and external partners, and subsequently set up reflection points a few times a year to look at data collected and see if any aspects of the ongoing projects need tweaking

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