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Scoping Volunteering Programmes and Partnerships: HICO in Partnership with Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board

Updated: 6 days ago

With an aging population in Wales and a public health service that is increasingly under financial pressure, the help of volunteers is fundamental in the delivery of health care excellence. Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB), the local health board for the NHS in North Wales, are fully aware of the importance volunteers play in the provision of their services and worked closely with HICO to develop a Volunteer and Volunteering Support Strategy.

As the largest health organisation in Wales, BCUHB relies on the support of volunteers. An effective strategy built on a strong evidence base is therefore crucial to enhancing patient/service user experience, providing quality volunteer support to paid staff, and of course, ensuring a positive, fulfilling and safe experience for volunteers. 

HICO conducted an independent review of the BCUHB’s existing volunteering programmes and partnerships to provide a foundation for the strategy. Following a desktop analysis of the current research, best practice, and policies and procedures related to volunteering and health care to streamline our enquiries, HICO delivered on a number of workshops with North Wales County Voluntary Councils to gain a better understanding of the local lived experiences and personal views of volunteering for the Health Board. This work was supplemented with various surveys in both English and Welsh to harvest the ideas of Health Board volunteers and staff before rounding off the data collection with one-to-one interviews with internal and external stakeholders including the Welsh Gov. and NHS England.

Analysis of the research categorically pointed towards widespread support and recognition around the value of volunteering for the Health Board. Enablers and barriers to a successful volunteering approach were identified, in addition to clear themes that require careful consideration. These themes included the importance of governance arrangements, the appreciation of the role of volunteers, and the role of volunteering in the local economy. As a result of the analysis, HICO provided BCUHB with ten clear recommendations under the categories of Leadership, Tools, Resources, and Partnerships & Relationships. 

Given the financial pressure Health Boards face, HICO suggested that the resources required to make the changes be redirected from existing channels during a phased transformation to ensure an affordable investment with clear and tangible benefits. In addition, HICO’s delivery recommendations were made keeping the Well-Being of Future Generations (Wales) Act front and centre to promote the long-term sustainability of a volunteer centric organisation. 

HICO are proud to have had the opportunity to support BCUHB in its crucial work. The research, analysis and recommendations will contribute to a strategy which will not only benefit the quality of the delivery of health provision in North Wales, but also improve the experience of those inspirational individuals who give their time and energy to support others. 

HICO are looking forward to supporting BCUHB in the future with other areas of business in which they require public and voluntary sector expertise and support. 

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