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CHANGE THE WORLD IN JUST YOUR PYJAMAS!

Microvolunteering in Hospitals

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Introduction

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Quite a few studies have shown a correlation between volunteering and an improvement in a person’s wellbeing and health – scroll down to the bottom of this page for links to these studies.

Considering the concept of microvolunteering enables a volunteering opportunity to go to the person, rather than a person having to go to a volunteering event, we’re interested in discovering whether hospitals, medical centres and the like would be open to exploring ways in which microvolunteering could be used to benefit patients, even to the extent as to whether it could speed up a patients recovery time.

General Notes
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Microvolunteering actions:
- involve no commitment
- are bite-sized, under 30 mins
- are on demand
- can be done from a bed
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Above attributes make this type of volunteering accessible to an area of research that has not been available before
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Possibly pioneering work!


As a former neuro patient, I would have relished any opportunity to help from my bedside.

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The Next Steps

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The basis of the role is to contact relevant medical personnel to initially discuss the feasibility and practicality of introducing microvolunteering actions into a medical environment. As we have no experience with the medical profession, we will be totally reliant on a volunteer to use their intuition / knowledge / research skills to invite people who might be interested in looking at the microvolunteering concept in greater detail, be that a student, professor, nurse, doctor etc. We’ve provided a flyer to assist with the role, via the linked image opposite. Some of the ways we envisage this are:

if you have any contacts in the medical profession that you think might be curious, please make them aware of this idea

if you’re a student, then could it be used as a subject for a thesis/research study, to evaluate its effectiveness to compliment existing therapeutic recovery methods

To give you an idea of what you could be discussing with a medical personnel, here are some questions that will hopefully serve as a background to the role:

  • what type of actions are suitable for patients, eg offline, online (is wi-fi available)
  • should actions be aligned to their illness, eg cancer related actions to cancer patients
  • what equipment can patients use to microvolunteer, eg smartphone, tablet
  • would the micro-actions be aimed at short / medium / long stay patients OR convalescing ones that can take the actions away with them
  • how would the benefits be measured on a patient, eg does it give them more self worth / value, will it reduce length of their hospital stay
  • what are the views of students / professors OR patients about this project
  • what are the practicality / viability of bringing microvolunteering actions to patients
  • over what timescale to carry out study
  • who would administer such a study
  • what to measure, eg reduction in anxiety, increase in self worth, less boredom, overall well-being etc
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Possible Areas To Explore

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Explore IdeasIt’s exciting as to where it all could lead, but from our very limited medical perspective, here’s a few suggestions:

could it be useful in psychology departments where action suggestions might compliment advice to patients in counselling sessions. We can provide a list of suggestions to kickstart the process


what actions would be beneficial to patients, perhaps to relieve their boredom, anxiety, give them something to focus on or as therapeutic stimuli (see our beneficial stimuli page). What affect will relieving boredom via microvolunteering activities have on a convalescing patient?

various microvolunteering actions involve helping out on medical related issues eg Cell Slider (analysing cancer cells). Would participation in these type of actions empower a cancer sufferer to know they could be helping to find a cure for their illness, and what affect will that have on a patient? We can provide a list of actions to kickstart the process

would a medical related micro-action give more purpose to a patient, in so far as would it increase their enthusiasm to ‘recruit’ other people / patients to participate in the action. What affect would this have on a patient / group of patients?

patients with limited mobility often become depressed due to their illness, which has a knock-on affect to their family… such as loss of work, different roles for family members becoming carers for example. As a result, patients can feel very isolated and worthless even. Could home based microvolunteering actions suitable for immobile people bring some positivity back into a person’s life and so lessen their depression?

could a microvolunteering scheme be set up so that medical students could assist convalescing patients, similar to Voluntopia

could it be useful in saving money for the health service, if it was found that it contributed to improving patient recovery times

could micro-actions be introduced into hospital waiting rooms to break up ‘hanging around’ time. Refer to this Tweet / picture for an example

some actions involve slight physical activity, eg Cranes for Cancer. Could this be used in occupational therapy where people with, for example, impaired use of their hands be helped via such activities, where the hand movement would be beneficial to repairing the function of their hands. The combination of benefitting others and themselves may have a positive affect on the patient

there’s been a small but growing call for doctors to prescribe volunteering to a patient in order to potentially improve their health and wellbeing. As microvolunteering is so accessible to almost everyone, regardless of their health status or lifestyle, could doctors be made aware of these prescription suggestions. See these articles here and here for more information

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Research Papers / Articles

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Various research papers are backing up the connection between volunteering and well-being. Here’s a few that reinforce this connection.