The role of the third sector in delivering social care – Scoping Review

This review was commissioned by the Department of Health’s NIHR School for Social Care Research. Voluntary and community sector (VCS) organisations have played an important part in delivering social care services for a considerable time. This role has been changing over time due to the personalisation agenda and greater integration of health and social care services. This new scoping review aimed to:

re-examine relevant existing research and literature in order to ascertain the current knowledge and skills of the VCS in delivering social care services in the UK;
carry out semi-structured interviews to corroborate any challenges, emerging issues and trends that came out of previous literature;
identify key questions to be asked and what studies might be required to take forward.

The researchers concluded that overall there is a lack of “robust research” that is associated to the role of the VCS in the delivery of social care services. “There is a need to clarify the different organisational forms involved in the delivery of social care and to explore the different roles that third sector [VCS] organisations have played in delivering services and campaigning”.

Another important finding is the lack of research on the impact of the use of volunteers in the delivery of social care services within VCS settings and the “added value” they bring. The review states that “qualitative research with volunteers and case study analysis of their involvement in delivery of services could provide important new evidence about the potential for, and the challenges of, voluntary contribution”.

Supported using public funding by the Arts Council England