Volunteer sustainability in the NHS

What is volunteer sustainability? What makes NHS volunteer programme sustainable? We’re sharing our experience as an NHS GP practice, sharing our insights on our patient volunteer programme. Here are our top tips on sustainability.

Our top tips

Our top tips on volunteer sustainability are to make sure that you look after your volunteers. They are incredibly talented and 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.

How to make the NHS Volunteering programme sustainable.

  1. 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

    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 and others are considering this.

  4. Measure patient feedback

    Measure patient impact – 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. Share learning.

    Share learnings frequently with staff, volunteers and external partners – 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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