Voluntary Work in the Norwegian long-term Care Sector: Complementing or substituting formal Services?
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Across Europe, governments call for increased involvement of volunteers to shoulder some of the welfare burden. Nevertheless, there is little research into what kind of work and how much volunteers currently contribute in the long-term care services and whether this has the potential to substitute formal services. Drawing on findings from a survey of employees in nursing homes and home care districts, we examine the nature and volume of voluntary, unpaid work in the long-term care services in Norway. Our data suggest that volunteers to a very limited degree carry out work that has traditionally been considered the formal system’s domain: personal care and practical help. Nearly all the voluntary, unpaid contributions in our data takes place within cultural, social and other activities aimed at promoting mental stimulation and well-being, indicating a classic specialisation of tasks between volunteers and professionals. However, there has been an expansion of the formal care system to include activities aimed at promoting well-being in recent decades. This may indicate that there is a certain level of task sharing between voluntary and formal care. Thus, social workers need to consider voluntary service provision when assessing the needs of clients.