Blurring and Bridging: The Role of Volunteers in Dementia Care within Homes and Communities



McCall V, McCabe L, Rutherford A, Bu F, Wilson M & Woolvin M (2020) Blurring and Bridging: The Role of Volunteers in Dementia Care within Homes and Communities. Journal of Social Policy, 49 (3), pp. 622-642.

Policy makers across the political spectrum have extolled the virtues of volunteering in achieving social policy aims. Yet little is known about the role that volunteering plays in addressing one of the significant challenges of an ageing population: the provision of care and support to people with dementia. We combine organisational survey data, secondary social survey data, and in-depth interviews with people with dementia, family carers and volunteers in order to better understand the context, role and challenges in which volunteers support people with dementia. Social policies connecting volunteering and dementia care in homes and communities often remain separate and disconnected and our paper draws on the concept of policy ‘assemblages’ to suggest that dementia care is a dynamic mixture of formal and informal volunteering activities that bridge and blur traditional policy boundaries. Linking home and community environments is a key motivation, benefit and outcome for volunteers, carers and those living with dementia. The paper calls to widen the definition and investigation of volunteering in social policy to include and support informal volunteering activity.

housing; volunteering; dementia; communities; policy; third sector

Journal of Social Policy: Volume 49, Issue 3

FundersAbbeyfield Society
Publication date31/07/2020
Publication date online22/01/2020
Date accepted by journal09/07/2019

People (3)


Professor Louise McCabe

Professor Louise McCabe

Professor, Dementia and Ageing

Professor Vikki McCall

Professor Vikki McCall

Professor of Social Policy, Housing Studies

Professor Alasdair Rutherford

Professor Alasdair Rutherford

Professor, Sociology, Social Policy & Criminology