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Health Soc Care Community. 1999 May;7(3):225-232.

Pilot study of a visitor volunteer programme for community elderly people receiving home health care.

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St. Elizabeth Visiting Nurses, Volunteer Programme, Faculty of Health Sciences, School of Nursing, Faculty of Social Sciences, School of Social Work, Gerontological Studies and System-Linked Research Unit on Health and Social Service Utilization.


There is a need to evaluate community support programmes for elderly people. In this randomized control trial (RCT), we determined the effectiveness of 'friendly visitors' in a volunteer programme of a visiting nurses organization in Southern Ontario, Canada. The Volunteer Friendly Visitor Programme was developed to support elderly people receiving homemaking and nursing care in the community. Volunteers are screened, trained, interviewed and matched to homebound elderly clients for general interest, visit expectations and personality. Volunteers spend three to four hours on average per week with clients socializing in mutually agreed-upon ways. The nursing staff identified clients who were lonely for this additional support. These newly-referred clients were randomly allocated to receive a friendly visitor or not for six weeks. Those receiving the volunteer visitor improved in life satisfaction and two social support measures: worth and social integration. Thus, the addition of volunteer visitors to planned homemaking and nursing care made a difference for elderly in the community.

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