Hospital volunteerism as human resource solution : motivation for both volunteers and the public health sector

Lourens, Guinevere M. ; Daniels-Felix, Danielle K. (2017)

CITATION: Lourens, G. M. & Daniels-Felix, D. K. 2017. Hospital volunteerism as human resource solution : motivation for both volunteers and the public health sector. SA Journal of Human Resource Management / SA Tydskrif van Menslikehulpbronbestuur, 15:1-7, doi:10.4102/sajhrm.v15i0.813.

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Background: A volunteer programme with 50 registered volunteers was established in 2007 at a secondary-level public, semi-rural regional hospital in the Cape Winelands, South Africa. This was a rapid response to the extensive renovations and system changes brought about by the hospital revitalisation initiated in 2006 and the resultant expanded services, which required additional human resources. This study describes the hospital volunteer programme and provides hospital administrators with practical planning guidance for hospital volunteer programme implementation. Purpose: The purpose of this study is to (1) describe the outcomes of the hospital volunteer programme implementation intervention and (2) to make sound recommendations for volunteer programme implementation. Methodology and approach: A qualitative case-study methodology was employed using purposive sampling as a technique. Participants were recruited from a public hospital in the Western Cape. A case-study design was applied to explore the hospital volunteer programme implementation. In-depth interviews and a focus group discussion with thematic content analysis of transcripts as well as document reviews were conducted to conclude the study during 2015. The key participants were individually interviewed and included two members of the hospital management, two volunteers and one volunteer coordinator. A focus group discussion consisting of three volunteers was also conducted. Findings: The findings of this study indicate that a volunteer programme can meet needs and be a motivational force for both the individual volunteer and the organisation. However, it requires co-ordination and some secure funding to remain sustainable. Such a programme holds huge benefits in terms of human resource supplementation, organisational development, as well as the possibility of gainful employment for the previously unemployed. Practical implications: In practice, a health service contemplating a volunteer programme should develop criteria for recruitment and selection of volunteers, accompanied by the necessary documentation for applications. A coordinator of the volunteer service needs to be identified. Volunteers will need to be orientated, given access to in-service training and supervised. Consideration needs to be given to risk management of vicarious liability by developing a code of conduct, clear roles and responsibilities, managing staff and volunteer relationships and providing emergency care for injuries while on duty as a volunteer.

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