Objectives: According to the recommendation of the French High Authority of Health (HAS), the non-pharmaceutical management of psycho-behavioural disorders associated with Alzheimer's disease or related disorders in a nursing home, involves reorganization an specific training for staff members and time. This raises the question of the role of volunteering in this approach.
Materials and methods: A descriptive survey using questionnaires distributed to various stakeholders (volunteers, healthcare professionals and caregivers) of a protected unit of the nursing home of the Diaconat clinic (Colmar, France) and specifically designed to assess their experience of the volunteering in supporting residents suffering from Alzheimer's diseases or related disorders.
Results: Of the 101 questionnaires that were filled in, 85.7% of caregivers, 60% of volunteers and 42.1% of professionals recorded benefits for themselves. Professionals and informal carers had confidence in the intervention of volunteers. However, volunteers seemed to lack skills to support informal caregivers and specific knowledge about the technique of communicating with residents. The key points to favor harmonious collaborations between the different stakeholders were: to properly define the role of volunteers and to inform other stakeholders about this role previously, and to specifically educate themselves in this task and to promote communication between volunteers and all other professionals.
Conclusion: This study shows that volunteers have a place alongside medical teams to participate in the non-pharmaceutical treatment for people with Alzheimer's disease or related syndromes. They have a unique position and play a complementary role to that of carers and informal caregivers.