Elderly people visited by volunteers feel physically healthier

Elderly people visited by volunteers feel emotionally and physically healthier and more able to cope with challenges of old age, study finds

  • Seven in ten people helped at home by volunteers said were ‘more able to cope’
  • Others said it meant they could spend more time doing the things they enjoy 
  • The Royal Voluntary Service polled 2,000 older people who use its services

Older people visited by volunteers feel emotionally and physically healthier as a result, a study has found.

Seven in ten helped at home by members of the Royal Voluntary Service said they felt more able to cope with the difficulties and everyday challenges they faced.

A similar number said it meant they had more social contact and has assisted them to spend more time doing the things they enjoyed.

The RVS polled 2,000 older people who use its services and found 62 per cent felt more connected to the community as a result.

NHS volunteer Janet Jones helps Janet Murton after her hydrotherapy treatment at Frimley Park Hospital

The charity, established 80 years ago, has more than 25,000 dedicated volunteers who provide practical support and companionship to lonely people. The findings show how giving time can make a difference.

Our Daily Mail/Helpforce hospital campaign is asking readers to volunteer for either three hours a week or one eight-hour day a month, for a minimum of six months. So far, 15,675 have signed up since Saturday to help the NHS.

The Royal Voluntary Service is backing the Mail’s Hospital Helpforce campaign by offering to take on any volunteers that trusts do not have capacity for.

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George Costain, 74, who lives alone in Basingstoke, Hampshire, received support from the RVS’s Home From Hospital service after recently being discharged. 

Volunteer Gayle Allington visited him for several weeks, offering help with everyday tasks while putting him in touch with social clubs to further aid his recovery.

He said: ‘I have loved the visits from Gayle. She is a lovely lady. Gayle has got me out and about and put me in touch with clubs that I can go to now that I am feeling stronger. 

Good Health volunteer Eliza Palmer, 17, pictured with patient Jennifer Ware at Chelsea and Westminster hospital

‘I am very grateful to RVS for sending me this lady.’

The RVS has inspired more than three million women and men to give their time since 1938. Today its focus is on helping people stay healthier and happier as they age, and supporting the NHS to have more time to care.

RVS chief Catherine Johnstone said: ‘Our volunteers have been providing pivotal support to the NHS since its inception and we’re delighted that through the Mail appeal more people will step forward to support their local hospital.

‘To volunteer one’s time is perhaps the most generous gift you can give: it is the gift of yourself. 

‘Volunteering offers enormous value for the person making the gift, and to those receiving it: it changes lives, changes communities and changes society. 

‘The sense of purpose and joy that can be derived from giving of yourself in support of others is incomparable.’

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