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Drawing the line: the boundaries of volunteering in the community care of older people

Volunteers can play important roles in the provision of support and care to frail or confused older people living in their own homes. There are conflicting expectations as to what these roles should be since there are unclear boundaries with those of paid care and with informal care. The present article explores some of these boundaries, drawing on material from a study of 14 volunteer schemes in England. The aim of the research was to explore the roles played by volunteers in the overall care division of labour. The main method used was that of semistructured interviews with organizers and volunteer coordinators of the schemes involved. The findings presented here relate to the limitations on the type of cases taken on, and to the boundaries with professional care, paid manual work and informal care. It concludes that the ways in which these boundaries are established and maintained depends not only on legal and policy constraints at the level of the state, but also on negotiation between organizations and individuals at a local level. The issues raised are of importance not only to research in the area, but to anyone planning similar schemes in the future.

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Health Soc Care Community
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