Introduction In 2011 MCCC commissioned Ipsos Mori to conduct an independent, qualitative evaluation of the Helper service; a volunteer delivered service providing social, emotional and practical support to maximise the wellbeing of terminally ill people and their carers.
Aims and Methods The aim of the research was to explore perceptions of the service from multiple viewpoints, those of people receiving the Helper service, Helper volunteers, service managers and referrers, in the two pilot sites of Somerset and Nottingham. The fieldwork took place between November 2011 and February 2012 and consisted of depth interviews and focus group sessions. In total, nine interviews took place with terminally ill people and eight interviews with carers currently using the service. The interviews were recorded, transcribed verbatim and analysed thematically. Themes were identified across the audiences and content from the transcripts grouped together within each theme.
Results Five key themes were identified under which findings were grouped. These were:
▸ Benefits and factors for success
▸ Understanding and expectations for the service
▸ Service delivery
▸ Challenges facing the service
▸ Future development
Conclusions The findings suggested that emotional support, companionship, practical support, carer respite and information provision is making a real difference to terminally ill people by having a positive impact on their emotional wellbeing. Carers reported similar direct benefits on their emotional health but also benefited simply from knowing that the emotional needs of the person they were caring for were being met.
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