South African Family Practice

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What helps volunteers to continue with their work?

G Marincowitz, C Jackson, S Fehrsen


Aim: The aim of the study was to understand what volunteers perceived to be the factors helping them to continue working as volunteers, thereby assisting project leaders to improve the recruitment procedures, as well as quality of service, in the future.

Methodology: A focus group interview was held with the 14 most active volunteers in order to understand their perceptions about their work and their ability to continue their work as volunteers. The recorded interview was transcribed, translated and analysed.

Findings: The volunteers feel that their work consists of various forms of support to patients. They see themselves as mediators (advocates) for the patients within the health care services. They have difficulties with some patients, who have high expectations of them. They also feel deeply about the difficulties experienced by many patients, particularly poverty. They are strongly motivated by their desire to help their own community. This is reinforced when they are thanked by patients whose health has improved as a result of the assistance they provided. They feel that, as people, they have gained knowledge and confidence. The support from the project coordinators/fieldworkers is very important to them.

Conclusions: The findings above represent what would be motivational in general: internal motivation, the ability to see the importance of your work, positive feedback, a plan to deal with difficulties and support from senior colleagues. It is therefore important to ensure such support and cooperation at various levels.

Keywords: Home-based care, volunteers, AIDS, motivation.

For full text, click here: SA Fam Pract 2004;46(1) :25-28
AJOL African Journals Online