The dynamics of voluntarism in rural dementia care

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In this article, we contribute to the social sciences literature on voluntarism by examining the dynamics of voluntary service provision for people living with dementia in rural settings. Although volunteer-based organizations provide community support services across a range of Western countries, little attention has been directed towards understanding the organization and actions of volunteers and voluntarism in dementia care. To address this gap, we conducted a case study of Alzheimer support organizations in Ontario, Canada, using questionnaires with service providers (N=20) and semi-structured interviews with people with dementia (N=46) and partners in care (N=43). In our analysis, we identify challenges related to increasing demands for support, partner relations, reaching rural communities, a lack of early stage supports, a lack of volunteers for programs that families have requested, and loss of volunteers in programs families depended on. Moreover, we argue that the current model of voluntary sector service provision for people living with dementia is unevenly developed and potentially unsustainable.

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