Browsing School of Social Work by Title "Volunteer Guardians in the Community: A Mixed Methods Exploration of a Complex Volunteer Task"
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Volunteer Guardians in the Community: A Mixed Methods Exploration of a Complex Volunteer TaskDemographic trends indicate a significant increase in the number of adults over 65, especially those 85 and older (Federal Interagency Forum on Aging-Related Statistics, 2010). Community services may be reduced or eliminated due to fiscal constraints (NGA, 2010). Recruiting and retaining volunteers to act as legal guardians (VGs) for incapacitated older adults may be essential in meeting increased community service demand for guardians. This mixed method study built upon prior research to include themes of qualitative semi-structured interviews and quantitative results from the Volunteer Functions Inventory (VFI; Clary et al., 1998; Clary, Snyder, & Stutkas, 1996) with VGs from a mid-Atlantic not-for-profit guardianship agency. Quantitative data suggest VG motivations score higher than the comparison sample on subscales measuring factors, such as Values (humanitarian, altruistic reasons), and lower than comparison sample on the Career, Enhancement, and Protective factor subscales. Qualitative data were collected using a semi-structured interview guide and analyzed using the Generic Inductive Qualitative Method (Hood, 2007). Interviews conducted with 12 volunteer guardians indicated themes related to why VGs chose this task, such as `helping the unbefriended (Values factor),' `giving back/paying forward,' and `learning to help.' Themes illustrative of how the guardians performed this volunteer task included `how they with conflict,' `need for a good match (client to volunteer),' and `asking for help.' In addition, findings seem to indicate that volunteers with human service training employed a more directive case management style. Volunteers without human service training provided more collaborative, functionary guardian services. Qualitative interview data were also collected from six board and agency staff and indicated a difference in perception between administration and VGs related to the `need for a good match,' as well as `recruitment' methods. Implications for practice include the need to provide more support and assistance to volunteers without human service training, understanding the need for guardian-client matches that would be more compatible with the guardian type, as well as a need for improved, specific recruiting methods. Implications for future research include the development of a model to recruit and train volunteer guardians that could be replicated by social service, faith-based, and other not-for-profit agencies.