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Royal Voluntary Service blog
Find out about the people behind Royal Voluntary Service in our series of guest stories from our volunteers, staff and partners.

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Highlighting the untapped potential of the charitable sector

Older man with health professionalIn October 2014, the NHS set out its vision to make our health and care system more person-centred, more embedded in our communities, and more effective at promoting health and well-being, rather than merely patching people up when things go wrong. I believe that Royal Voluntary Service, along with other leading health and care charities, has the right tools, approaches and expertise to help make it a reality in a sustainable and affordable way.

With the pressure on resources as a result of the economic climate alongside growing need, charities like us have an important role to play in assisting the NHS and supporting individuals. Provisions like our Home from Hospital services show a link between volunteer support and a decline in costly and distressing unplanned re-admissions but the impact of our work goes much further than that.

The nature of support provided by our volunteers is that they have the time to nurture different relationships with older people than hard pressed care professionals. Genuine friendships between an them and our volunteers can lift an older person out of social isolation, loneliness and despair, encouraging better local connections to keep them healthier and happier in the long term; both vital components in personal health and well-being. Many volunteers tell me that they get just as much out of the interactions as the older person does, spreading the benefits even further.

Being involved in drawing together our knowledge with other key players from the charity sector for the Untapped Potential report has reiterated to me how important it is that we work together to amplify our positive force in the community. 44% of the charity interventions featured in the report were found to both improve health and well-being and do so with limited or no effect on costs. I am certain that with greater collaboration between charities and the development of genuine partnerships between statutory health and social care rather than relationship based on commissioner and commissioned we can grow impact to much greater levels than indicated in the report helping to support the NHS and enriching the lives of older people.

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Posted by Karl Demian, Director of Strategy & Development at 00:00 Wednesday, 13 April 2016.

Labels: Royal Voluntary Service, NHS, older people, health care