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Enhancing Live-In Care with Volunteer Support

Live-in Carer with sat drinking tea with elderly lady in the garden

The NHS and Care Volunteer Responders programme has opened its doors to the care sector, enabling health and care colleagues and members of the public to request volunteer support for those most vulnerable. The scheme, which has already helped hundreds of thousands of people, has a range of services available to support those in receipt of care at home.


In the UK more than 950,000 people are currently receiving domiciliary care, and the demand for care at home has been steadily rising.


More than 35,000 volunteers have stepped forward to support the health and wellbeing of others by providing friendly and encouraging phone calls and collecting and delivering groceries, medications, and essential items. The programme, and volunteer support, is completely free and easy for care colleagues to use in support packages.

Services open for referral include:


  • Check In and Chat: telephone support to people who need a chat and some encouragement to improve their mental health and wellbeing. This service is available for up to 18 weeks, but the referrer can make a repeat referral after the first period ends or people can re-refer themselves.


  • Check In and Chat Plus: Regular telephone calls for more vulnerable people – three calls a week over a six-week period from the same volunteer. This service is also available for re-referral.

  • Pick-Up and Deliver: Volunteers to transport medication or small items of medical equipment to people’s homes and care homes, from NHS sites or between sites.


  • Community Response: Collection and delivery of essential shopping and prescriptions to people. This service is accessible for up to six weeks and is also available for self-referral.


Domiciliary Care providers are able to arrange for people to receive these services in their own homes as part of their support package. Coupled with the support of their carers, these efforts aim to enable older people who wish to live independently and comfortably in their own homes to continue to do so.

Keeping safe and well at home

There have been multiple and ongoing policy commitments to shift care away from acute hospitals and into community settings, underscoring the value of a ‘home-first’ approach to care. For instance, with NHS services, hospital-at-home teams and virtual wards are proliferating as mechanisms for providing clinical support for older people in their own homes.


Following the focus on supporting those at home, the NHS and Care Volunteer Responders programme is encouraging domiciliary care providers?? to take advantage of the programme and refer people for additional support. The programme’s services have been developed to support the health and mental wellbeing of people and reduce pressures on the care sector and NHS.


Through the programme’s Community Response and Pick Up and Deliver services, domiciliary care providers can ensure their clients receive essential prescriptions, medical equipment and groceries.


The prevalence of nearly all long-term health conditions increases with age. Emergency admissions rates for specific long-term conditions that should not normally require hospitalisation increase with age[1]. Supporting people to optimally manage such conditions can help them to avoid becoming unwell and requiring unnecessary or emergency hospitalisation. It’s hoped that through the additional support offered by volunteers, through Pick Up and Deliver and Community Response, there is greater support to help older people stay fit and well at home.


Why taking care of mental health is important as we age

There are a range of factors that affect mental health and wellbeing in later life. According to the NHS, nearly half of adults aged 55 and over report having experienced depression and/or anxiety at some point in their lives and one in five (21%) of the people who reported experiencing depression or anxiety said their symptoms had worsened with age[2]. Common reasons for poor mental health for older people are loneliness, illness, and lifestyle changes. However, just like other long-term conditions, mental health problems are not an inevitable part of ageing.


Even with the support the support of a carer, people can still experience loneliness. More than a million older people say they go over a month without speaking to a friend, neighbour or family member[3]. Without intervention, loneliness can lead to depression and a serious decline in physical health and wellbeing.


In an effort to help reduce feelings of loneliness, volunteers are available to offer friendly and encouraging calls. The programme is designed to accommodate the needs of each person, allowing the frequency of calls to be tailored to the person’s needs, whether it’s a one-off chat or more regular check ins. 


Check In and Chat calls can also support individuals who are recovering after time spent in hospital or those struggling with confidence after a fall.


Returning home after a hospital stay can be a relief but it can also be overwhelming. For those in need of a compassionate listener and friendly chat, volunteers are here to provide support and encouragement. They can assist patients on their path to recovery supporting their wellbeing and in turn reducing their chance of readmission.


Volunteers can help support people in rebuilding their confidence, through friendly conversation and working with the evidence-based NHS 5 steps to wellbeing.


According to NHS England, falls affect a significant portion of the older population, with one in three adults over 65 and half of those over 80 experiencing at least one fall annually[4]. Falls are the primary cause of a loss of independence. After a fall, the fear of falling can trigger a cycle of inactivity, resulting in loss of strength, diminished self-assurance, and an increased risk of subsequent falls.  Our volunteers establish a warm and encouraging connection with older individuals, assisting them in rebuilding their confidence. This is pivotal in helping patients adapt to life back at home and recommence their daily routines.

Perspectives from the care sector

Caroline Callaghan, who is currently utilising Volunteer Responders services in her role as Senior Community Navigator at Hartlepool Borough Council, said: “Check in and Chat is so beneficial because even a quick phone conversation can be a real boost, knowing that there is a person on the other end of the phone who wants to talk and listen to you, is brilliant for a person’s wellbeing.


“Our team follow a community-led response model, and if we can help people to remain independent and well at home, in the community working from a preventative ethos, that’s what we do.”


“It’s so quick and easy to make a Volunteer Responders referral, I regularly remind our team that the programme is there for us to refer in to, and to support the people we’re working with. I have also recommended Volunteer Responders to colleagues in adult social care teams, as we all work with a common aim, and the programme is one tool we can use to help achieve that.


“I know that Community Response and Pick Up and Deliver services will also make a big difference to the lives of people we work with.”


Similarly, Samantha Aylott, Specialist Advisor for Adult Social Care at Essex County Council, regularly uses the Volunteer Responder programme to organise volunteer Check in and Chat calls for people as part of their social care package.


Samantha said: “It’s immensely helpful to be able to offer people emotional wellbeing support and the opportunity to have a friendly phone call as part of their care package. Having someone to chat to can mean a lot to the adults we work with; it’s about knowing someone cares and is interested in them.


“I would recommend the programme to other social care providers, it’s quick and easy to use.”

David Fielden’s Story

Check In and Chat calls provide a friendly voice to someone who is feeling lonely or isolated, or who would simply like a chat. These calls support the mental health and wellbeing of those in care who are struggling with loneliness, especially people without friends or family nearby.


For many, these calls are a lifeline. David Fielden receives regular phone calls as part of the programme.


He said: "I can't express how grateful I am for the volunteer phone calls I receive. Being largely housebound and living with a chronic illness can make you feel so isolated and it's easy to fall into a state of loneliness. These phone calls have truly become the high point of my day. Without [them], my days would be much more difficult and lonelier. I am forever grateful to the volunteers who selflessly give their time to make a difference in the lives of others.”

A volunteer’s perspective

Volunteering is a win-win situation, benefiting both the individuals who volunteer and the communities they serve. Volunteers often speak of the happiness and satisfaction of helping others. Andrew Marks is an excellent example of this; he volunteers his time with the NHS and Care Volunteer Responders, making friendly phone calls to lonely and isolated individuals, including those in care or receiving care.


He said: “I’m always glad and hopeful that when the call comes to an end, I’ve been able to reassure them and give them a little extra boost, reminding them they are not forgotten. It can mean a lot, especially for those who are isolated or living in care without family or friends nearby.”


“The kind ‘thank you for calling’, makes it all the more worthwhile. It’s a great feeling knowing you have helped make someone’s day just that little bit brighter.”


There are thousands of volunteers like Andrew, across England, providing support to those in care.



The NHS and Care Volunteer Responders programme is available seven days a week and comes with comprehensive support and assurance. There is a helpline, safeguarding team and problem solving team available between 8am – 8pm every day. Regional Relationship Managers are available in each region to answer questions about the programme, the volunteer support available and how to make a referral.


ID checks are carried out for all volunteers, with DBS checks being completed for the necessary volunteering activities. Volunteers also receive a Getting You Started Guide to help them feel confident in their roles and facts sheets with helpful advice, training and guidance to aid them in offering the best possible support. Volunteers also have access to the trained safeguarding team 12 hours a day.


How to request volunteer support

It is incredibly straightforward to request volunteer support and anyone interested in exploring this additional service can visit Request Support Services | NHS and Care Volunteer Responders ( or call our Support Team on 0808 196 3382 to find out more information or to make a referral.


Referrals can be made in minutes with support able to be arranged and monitored online, enabling fast real time deployment. Once a referral has been made, it can be easily updated and managed through the booking portal if necessary.

This is such an insightful blog, thank you for writing and this for us to share. All our Live-in Carers are experienced and qualified to provide peace of mind at home. Call our friendly expert Live-in Care team on 01264 319 399.






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