The project addresses what role the "activity friend" volunteers play in municipal health care and for people with dementia in Norway.
As population ageing puts increased pressure on health and care services, a key policy aim is to promote and support the voluntary sector (Dementia Plan 2020; White Paper 19 2014-2015; National Voluntarism Strategy 2015-2020). Part of the voluntary work in the public health sector is aimed towards people with dementia. The number of Norwegians with dementia will increase towards 2040 in line with population aging.
An “activity friend” is a volunteer engaging in various activities with a person with dementia (the National Association for Public Health). This voluntarism is organized in collaboration between the voluntary and public sector in over 200 Norwegian municipalities. Although activity friends make important contributions in many municipalities, there has been little systematic explorations of the role these volunteers play in municipal health care and for people with dementia. Little is also known about how the engagement affect the volunteers themselves.
The aim of the project “Activity friend for people with dementia” is to explore these issues using both quantitative and qualitative data.
We address the following questions
- Who are the activity friends? What are their social-demographic characteristics (gender, age, education, etc.)? Can we speak of certain types (categories) of activity friends?
- What motivates people to become and to remain as activity friends?
- What characterizes those who remain activity friends over long periods (personal, organizational, municipal factors)? What can explain why some people quit after a short spell?
- What kind of experiences are common among activity friends? What are the perceived benefits and challenges, and which factors may moderate these consequences?
- What are the perceived strengths and weaknesses with the way the activity friend arrangement is organized and operated?
These questions will be explored through an internet-based survey among a large number of activity friends, in addition to in-depth interview with a small number of activity friends. Findings in the project will be discussed in relation to the national and international research literature on voluntarism.
Participants at OsloMet
Sørvoll, J. & Hansen, T. (2019). Aktivitetsvenn. En studie av et frivillig tilbud rettet mot personer med demens med vekt på de frivilliges erfaringer. NOVA Rapport 4/19 (fagarkivet.oslomet.no). In Norwegian.