Synergy: working together with volunteers in community well woman clinics

J Adv Nurs. 1999 Aug;30(2):489-96. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2648.1999.01104.x.


Despite promotion of the participation of volunteers in community and primary care services, there are few British studies which have explored the benefits and challenges of collaborative working between volunteer and paid workers, and in particular, women's experiences of volunteering within the National Health Service (NHS). The study presented here seeks to add to the limited, existing knowledge in this area. The experiences of volunteer and paid workers working together in two community well woman clinics are discussed, focusing on the benefits of working together for volunteers, paid workers and clients. Discussion is based on data collected over an 18-month period of participant observation in two community well woman clinics, interviews with 26 volunteer and paid workers and a review of the clinics' operational policy documents. Drawing on the concept of synergy, relationships between volunteer and paid workers are illuminated. In this paper it is argued that working together renders the opportunity for volunteer and paid workers to share insights, perspectives and approaches which enhance clients' health assessments. It provides an added value dimension to client care and yields benefits for the service provider. The implications of the study for practice and policy are considered.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Health Personnel / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Program Evaluation
  • State Medicine
  • United Kingdom
  • Volunteers / psychology*
  • Women's Health Services*