Description & History

CHV was established three years ago by a group of trustees, most of whom have had relatives in care and had seen at first hand the loneliness that residents can experience.  Many outstanding volunteer initiatives already exist to support older people in their homes (RVS and AgeUK befriending schemes, Dementia Friends and good neighbour schemes), but this support ceases when an older person enters residential or nursing care. 

There are many excellent care homes that show great kindness and compassion in looking after their residents, but care homes are very busy places and there is often not enough time for carers to spend with residents.  At CHV we train volunteers to spend time with care home residents on a one-to-one basis or in small groups.

A resident in a care home may have suffered the loss of a partner, and will have lost their home, social network and possessions; they may suffer from physical impairment, dementia or other physical or mental disabilities that make social interaction and involvement in organised activities difficult.  40% of older people in care suffer from depression, a significant proportion have no outside visitors and, for a resident with dementia, the social contact with others outside care tasks is two minutes in six hours. We believe that a new, creative scheme is needed to tackle this increase in loneliness, alleviate isolation and to improve the quality of life for older people in this, the last chapter of their lives.

Following consultation with major care home groups and bodies such as Care England, NCF, AgeUK, the Residents and Relatives Association, and the Department of Health, as well as a mention at a Lords’ Debate in Parliament, we are confident that we can help to help older residents in care homes feel happier, better supported and to live a life that is still of value.  Although we work in partnership with care homes, our volunteers are there for residents only, carrying out extra activities and interaction above what is usually possible in a home, and do not carry out any tasks that are usually the province of the care home. 

During a pilot study in Salisbury and expansion into Chippenham, we had a great response from volunteers and experts in care for older people, such as Julian Kirby, the Chief Officer for AgeUK in Wiltshire, who has said that, ‘Age UK Wiltshire unreservedly endorses the work of Care Home Volunteers. The quality of their work is outstanding, combining professionalism in everything they do with an extraordinary compassion for older people’. 

We have extended and strengthened our trustee board which now includes a care home manager of an award winning and CQC-outstanding care home, a local authority commissioner for older people’s services, an experienced CEO of several major charities and a charity adviser for Cranfield School of Management.

We are now planning to widen our scope by embarking on a new project in Swindon.    We have been encouraged by local and national bodies such as AgeUK and Care England to demonstrate that our model is viable in different size towns and with different demographics, before embarking on forging ahead with a national presence.

We estimate 100 older care home residents are benefitted in each town of Salisbury and Chippenham, and Swindon is five times larger than either of these - so we have the potential to help more people and recruit a greater volume of volunteers. 


About the organisation

Care Home Volunteers

Norman Edwards
Organisation’s website: