Thank You event

The Hospital to Home project came to an end on 31st March 2014 and has left a fantastic legacy of volunteers and a model of good practice which Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust have adopted and we wish them all the best in the running of the Mealtime and Wellbeing volunteer programmes developed by the project.

A tremendous thanks goes to all the dedicated volunteers on the project, without their input, views, patient support and observation time the project would not have been possible. The difference they have made to older people’s lives can not be measured. As one patient summed it up

“Nurses are for nursing. Volunteers are friends helpers”

Many of the volunteers were able to attend the Hospital to Home’s Volunteer Thank You event at the Grand Hotel in Tynemouth and are pictured above.

Consultation event (Northumberland) 3

On the 21st March the final project consultation event took place to find out what support older people in Northumberland wanted after hospital discharge.  An overview of the Hospital to Home project was given by Julie Dixon-Patterson. Healthwatch Northumberland and NHS PALS representatives give a brief insight in their roles to improve care and how the public can access their services.Consultation event (Northumberland) 1

Summary of Hospital to Home Project

Over 18 months the project has achieved its three core outcomes at very respectable indicator levels. Thanks to the Hospital Mealtime programme and the Wellbeing and Information programme , 1696 older patients have benefited from the extra support and social contact. A tool to assess person centred care on wards has been established, enabling 16 ward reports to be generated and staff feedback sessions to be delivered, 69 hours of volunteer observation time contributed to this. The joint learning occasions between Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust staff, project staff and volunteers, were extremely beneficial to both organisations. A successful pilot (following a patient into the community) was carried out and two consultation events, provided future learning for community discharge projects and services. The project has achieved the following short term impacts:

  • improvement in volunteer skill levels, confidence and wellbeing;
  • raising ward staff’s awareness of the benefits of volunteers;
  • joint learning between project staff, volunteers and Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust staff;
  • enhancing sustainability of volunteering in patient care roles at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust.

Medium term impacts have emerged thanks to the partnership with Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust:

  • Trust to retain the services of the Hospital Observation Volunteers for future ward observations at North Tyneside General Hospital. Volunteers will remain under the direction of Age UK North Tyneside;
  • Trust taking on responsibility for the project’s Mealtime and Wellbeing volunteers and will continue the programmes, they hope to expand volunteer numbers so more wards can benefit.




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Secure Future for Volunteers as Project Ends

The Hospital to Home project officially ends 31st March 2013. However we have  good news for the project volunteers, Northumberland Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust are going to take responsibility for them and hope to eventually expand the number of volunteers so more wards can benefit (a fantastic medium term project impact) . The Mealtime and Wellbeing volunteers will be overseen by the NHS Patient Experience team and ongoing recruitment will be driven by the HVS (Hospital Volunteer Service).

We have already started sharing what we have developed and our learning with the NHS to facilitate a smooth handover. The NHS Shared Purpose researcher Win Tadd (renowned for her work Dignity in Practice: An exploration of Care of Older Adults in Acute NHS Trusts) has all 16 ward observation report we have produced and will hopefully be able to share some of her finding in May 2014.

See the Resources page for document, forms and training material designed for all three project programmes:

  • Hospital Mealtime Programme
  • Hospital Wellbeing and Information Programme
  • Hospital Observation and Real-time Feedback programme

Volunteers were offered the choice of staying with their local Age UK (North Tyneside or Northumberland) in a different role or transferring to the NHS and staying in their current hospital role(s). So far all but two of the volunteers are going to stay in their hospital role.

The NHS Shared Purpose project manager has been impressed by the Observation volunteers and the unique insight they bring to improving person centred care on the wards. Therefore it has been agreed the Observation Volunteers will remain under the control of Age UK North Tyneside (to maintain their independent status) and further wards observe at North Tyneside Hospital will follow.

Our final post will be after the volunteer ‘Thank You’ party at The Grand Hotel in Tynemouth on 19th March.

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Hospital to Home Legacy



Hot off the creative press, Hospital to Home volunteers have written poems and short stories capturing their feeling about volunteering and giving the older vulnerable patients they support a voice.  Creating a unique legacy for the Hospital to Home project.

Creative Writer Romi Jones guided the volunteers in a series of workshops and one to one sessions to uncover their writing talents. Romi specialises in working with older people and those with dementia, and was notified during her work on the project she had been awarded a Winston Churchill Travel Fellowship to go to Canada and USA to research the practice of creative writing with people with dementia and its links with the development of Dementia Friendly Communities.

A big thank you goes to Romi for inspiring the volunteers to produce work with honesty, passion and humanity. Volunteer Luiza wrote ‘ the lines would make me  laugh, smile and cry a bit, as they are charged with so much emotion and pathos. I did recognize my words & thoughts, and thank you for considering them worthy of being published. In my opinion, it reflects both volunteers and patients’ voice with regards to ‘life & treatment’ in hospital…. I hope our work….. will be seen as a legacy, and will make people appreciate those who give their spare time for free, and wish to help others’



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Hospital to Home Research Update


Hi I ‘m Moyra Riseborough and I am carrying out an independent evaluation of the Hospital to Home project. I started doing the evaluation last year and I will complete the work sometime in May. I spend my working life carrying out research for different customers and although I specialise in older age issues I get very varied commissions.

Hospital to Home is an interesting project to evaluate because it is very innovative.  For example, several Age UKs in other parts of the country run projects called Hospital to Home that aim to help people obtain the advice, support, services, equipment and adaptations they need in order to leave hospital and move back to their homes.  However none of these projects focus on volunteers who are working alongside hospital staff with patients on particular wards over a period time.

It’s also great for me to be working on something not too far from my home in Northumberland. My other work at the moment involves a lot of travel around the UK.

What is evaluation?

In case you don’t know much about what evaluations are, they usually involve  comparing what actually takes place against what was planned or hoped for from a project. So I always start by looking at what the project’s a very interesting project to evaluate because there are so many strands to it and because it is very innovative. There are other projects in the UK that have similar titles but they don’t do the same thing. For example, several Age UKs in other parts of the country run projects called Hospital to Home that aim to help people obtain the advice, support, services, equipment and adaptations they need in order to leave hospital and move back to their homes.  However none of these projects focus on volunteers who are working alongside hospital staff with patients on particular wards over a period time.

I set out to do first although in almost all the cases I have researched projects are never exactly as planned! There are always lessons from this that will help the organisations concerned to work out how to plan better for the next project.

There are usually some really good examples of how a project brought some positive benefits so I am looking for evidence of what worked really well and what could have been done better with hindsight. There are specific things too that the project aimed to tackle such as encouraging older people in hospital to eat and making it easier for patients to socialise. I have been interviewing volunteers and staff to find out from them how they think the project has made a difference to patients. Then there are the reasons why people volunteer and the benefits people think they received from the volunteering experience.

What I am doing

Not surprisingly I am collecting and reading lots of information and background. I have also been interviewing a number of people to find out what they think. I am also looking at notes from meetings between volunteers and staff to see what they have said already about their experiences.

As well as individual face to face interviews I have interviewed some people on the phone and later this week I will be holding a group discussion with a group of Hospital to Home volunteers. Group discussions are a great way to get people to compare their views and experiences so I am looking forward to having a lively discussion.

H2H Researcher group meeting 14.02.14 (3)

H2H Researcher group meeting 14.02.14 (4)

What’s next?

I will be writing a draft report in the next couple of weeks and I will add to it as new information comes along. Most of the data collection is nearly finished with the Age UK Northumberland, Age UK North Tyneside and Hospital to Home volunteers but interviews have not started with the ward staff and NHS Trust staff.

Do you want to contribute?

If you have been involved in the Hospital to Home project and I have not managed to interview you why not send me an email telling me your views about the project and what you think has worked really well?

You can contact me at

Moyra Riseborough

Riseborough Research and Consultancy Associates

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Person-Centred Training

As part of their on going training our Hospital Wellbeing and Hospital Mealtime volunteers are being given the chance to undertake the ‘Person – Centred’ training on Dementia, Delirium and Depression that Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust provide to NHS staff and those working in the care field.

Myself, Pam (project assistant) and Observation Volunteers Tina, Dawn, Lorraine and Dorothy went on the training at the start of the project and were immensely impressed. See blog post ‘February Milestones’ for the amazing You Tube clip ‘The Power of Music – Henry Wakes Up!’  which brings a tear to the eye. For me the words of Christine Bryden a dementia sufferer struck a lasting  cord.

‘My stress tolerance is very low, even a minor disruption can cause a catastrophic reaction. I need calm no surprises, no sudden changes. Anxiety is an undercurrent of the disease and it often feels like something terrible is going to happen’ (Christine Bryden 2005)

Christine BrydenTokyo 2012

I would recommend anyone interested in finding out more about dementia check out the following:

a)      Professor Tom Kirkwood – a pioneer in the field of dementia care who challenged the ‘old culture of care’ and aimed to understand what care is like from the view-point of the person with dementia and what their fundamental needs are. He introduced the concept of ‘person hood’ which we now term ‘person centred’ care i.e. accepting and valuing people with dementia with as individuals, with their own unique history.   He developed Dementia Care Mapping an observational method for evaluating the quality of care given to people with dementia. His book Dementia Reconsidered: the person comes first (1997) details his work.

b) Dancing with Dementia. My story of living positively with dementia Christine Bryden

c)  Stirling University’s work on dementia friendly environments and the University of  Bradford work on Dementia Care Mapping

d) Tippa Snow  an American Occupational Therapist working in dementia care in an specialist educational role

As part of our partnership with the NHS Shared Purpose project,  joint learning was high on the agenda so naturally gaining this training for all our volunteers and project staff alongside ward staff was of benefit to all. To date 6 further volunteers (both Mealtime and Wellbeing) and Carole (volunteer co-ordinator) have taken advantage of the training.

Luiza one of the Wellbeing volunteers from Wansbeck General Hospital wrote:

‘It was intense, worthwhile attending, and it reinforced some of the key values one needs to maintain when working with vulnerable patients’


Anne one of the Mealtime volunteers from North Tyneside found the training very useful and positive. Staff from different wards (without volunteers) were really interested in what herself and fellow volunteer Jean had to say and were very complementary and possibly  a little jealous!

Malcolm one of the North Tyneside Hospital Mealtime and Wellbeing volunteers told me how powerful the DVD of a lady going into hospital was as everyone took for granted that she understood everything that was going on. Malcolm found being involved with clinical staff and understanding their viewpoint plus being able to share his experiences of working in dementia day care was enlightening as some attendees had little knowledge of how activities such as knitting, listening to music and reminiscence books/activities can have a calming and comforting influence. He said as a volunteer it meant a great to deal to him to get the level of praise he did for making a difference to patients from the ward staff especially  Lynne Gould the NHS lecturer.

Malcolm Rendles - volunteer

A big thank you goes to Lynne Gould and Aileen Beatty for the training and congratulations to all the Specialist Behaviour Support team as they have recently won the Nursing Times Awards 2013 for their work in the community supporting people living with dementia. Follow the link for more information

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Wansbeck General Hospital – Volunteers Go Live

Mealtime and Wellbeing Volunteers are slowly being introduced onto Ward 6 at Wansbeck General Hospital in Northumberland.  Many of the volunteers were gained with the assistance of Anne Raine from Age UK Northumberland in a joint volunteer recruitment event on 4th September with our Hospital to Home Volunteer Co-ordinator Carole.

julie 008Carol 1

As you can see from the documents below our volunteers need to go through an extensive recruitment process and unfortunately many drop out along the way. However after role training most volunteers are soon eager to start their role.  

Overview of Hospital Mealtime Volunteer Recruitment & Training Process

Overview of Hospital Wellbeing Volunteer Recruitment & Training Process

Volunteer Mealtime training took place on 7th November and 6 new volunteers attended. The volunteers had a lively morning training session. Please see the Resources page for the 3 presentations including one from Chris Craig (NHS Nutrition Nurse Specialist) and Debbie Simons (NHS Speech and Language Therapist).  Both presentations were well received especially when the volunteers had to feed each other custard and biscuits, with eyes closed!

 Final - Mealtime training WGH

Volunteer Wellbeing training followed on the 21st November and Jo Mackintosh from the NHS Patient experience Team and Kathy Catling from the NHS POAS team (mental health) presented. Nine volunteers attended and everyone clearly enjoyed the giant size scones provided by Age UK Northumberland café.

Volunteers Judith and Emily have recently started on ward 6 and are doing both a Mealtime and Wellbeing role. Alongside Affiliated Mealtime Volunteer Pauline (HVS existing volunteer) and our first Wansbeck Wellbeing volunteer Luiza who started in October 2013.

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Farewell from Amy – Wellbeing Volunteer


I have just recently finished volunteering with Age UK North Tyneside in the hospital to home project. My time volunteering has been amazing. In the beginning, I was terrified of walking onto the ward, talking to any patient having no medical experience. After the initial warming up period, the ward staff came to know our group of volunteers and specifically picked out patients for us to talk to. Of course, you have bad days and good days. However when you walk away from a patient who is smiling or who’s relatives thank you for spending time with them, the bad days fade away. I loved the gossip tea parties, it was a chance to bring patients, relatives, volunteers and ward staff together in an informal environment. The quiz that Pam lovingly wrote was always a talking point that is sometimes handy when you run out of things to say. I have learnt and grown personally from my six months with the team. Because of my time volunteering, I have gone onto train to become a therapist. The experiences I have gained during my time have helped me to be accepted onto the training course. The support team from  Age UK North Tyneside and Northumbria Healthcare Trust are second to none. Their dedication to the project and the patients shines through. Of course, the support from the other volunteers kept me there every week. They reassured me that my bad days were rare and gave me ideas on how to approach conversation with patients. Hospital stays are scary times for anyone, but if there is a friendly face who does not want to take your blood pressure then it can make your time there easier.

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Consultation Event

Consultation event - talk

A consultation event was held at Age UK North Tyneside’s Cedar Grove Wellbeing Centre on Friday 13 September 2013, hosted by Julie Dixon-Patterson (Hospital to Home) and Gary Thompson (Enabling & Befriending). The community Enabling and Befriending Service being a natural pathway after the Hospital to Home Project.

Consultation event - me & gary

Event agenda:

1.30pm – Meet and Greet

1.45pm – Introduction

1.50pm – Hospital to Home project update

2.00pm – Enabling and Befriending Service

2.10pm – Exercise 1 (question cards 1, 2 and 3)

2.30pm – Afternoon tea and cakes

3.00pm – Feedback from exercise 1

3.10pm – Changes in the healthcare landscape (preventing hospital readmission)

3.15 Exercise 2 (Ideal world)

3.15 Closing speech and raffle prize draw

Over 50 Age UK customers and volunteers attended alongside representatives from North Tyneside Council, Northumbria NHS, North Tyneside Carers and Healthwatch.

The Hospital to Home and Enabling and Befriending were discussed together with a new service  ‘telephone befriending’. Views were gathered on exactly what people want from these services and how they should be delivered.

Exercise 1  – Team task

Card 1 – What do you think people most need when coming out of hospital?

Card 2 – How useful is telephone befriending?

Card 3 – What qualities would you look for in a volunteer visiting or telephoning you?

Consultation event - group work

Exercise 2  – Ideal World, individual Post-It Note task:

Question posed – What help do you need? a) newly out of hospital, b) living with a long term condition

Consultation event - group work 2

The overwhelming response was that there was a huge need for services to support people in the community and project staff from Age UK North Tyneside certainly came away with some ‘food for thought’ on how they could shape these services moving forward. Open the word document below to find a summary of the findings.

Consultation Event Feedback

Consultation event - feedback

John Connelly – Head of Community Services for Age UK North Tyneside said  ‘it was great to see so many people at the event and to get such a good cross-section of views on our current services, and how we can move these forward to further satisfy the needs of our customers. Many of our customers have first hand experience of going into and coming out of hospital, and it is important to provide additional help at this time. Ultimately we hope that our interventions can have a very positive impact and help reduce the number of hospital admissions and re-admissions amongst older people.’

Consultation event - prizes

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Ward 3 Events Rock & Roll

Thanks to Pam Walker’s hard work creating 1950’s and 60’s reminiscence activities and her amazing flair for engaging everyone in the party mood, the last 3 gossip events on ward 3 at North Tyneside General Hospital have gone down a storm with patients, cares and staff. Supporting Pam have been the Wellbeing volunteers Alf, Amy, Dorothy and Malcolm, without their assistance in the day room and bays (supporting those patient unable leave their beds) the events wouldn’t be possible.

Ward Manager Bev Banks is so thrilled with the events that she wants them to go on a monthly rolling cycle, so we naturally obliged:

Wednesday 11th September 2013

Relive 1950’s & 1960’s Movie Stars


Wednesday 16th October 2013

Relive 1950’s & 1960’s Rock & Roll Stars


Wednesday 15h November 2013

Relive 1950’s & 1960’s TV


Bev has notice the lasting positive effect on patients wellbeing and told us, a week before an event everyone starts to talk and gets excited as people see the posters and carers are given the reminder slips. Weeks afterward the patients are still taking about the event to wards staff and more importantly to each other.

Amazingly the physiotherapy team are even using the popularity of the events to encourage patients to practice their walking to the day room!

In the last event on 14th August (1950’s and 60’s TV) I noticed a few patients from Ward 2 had come to join the fun. Also Heather Carr (Hospital Governor)  popped in and ended up staying till the end. Good job Bev had ordered plenty of tea and cakes!

One patient told me once she was in the day room she started talking to people and realised one of her neighbours was on the ward.  The lady stated:

For a short time felt out of hospital. Forgot my aches and pains and just laughed… People start to talk to each… lifted me right up”

We also received a fantastic e-mail from a senior member of NHS staff which stated:

‘several people have passed comments about how nice ward 3 “feels” in terms of its tea events and activities and have asked how and when we can extend the programme’

A protocol has been drawn up with the NHS for these events, as we like to share our resources and learning it is attached below and on the Resources page

Event Protocol – Wellbeing and Information Programme

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Mealtime Training – Shared Learning & Resources

Having perfected our training and supervision programme for the Hospital Mealtime Volunteer on Ward 9 at North Tyneside General Hospital, we though it best to share our learning and resources, hence our new page ‘Resources’. If you find these resources useful or have questions please let us know. We will share the Hospital Wellbeing Volunteer information soon – don’t want to give too much away too soon!

Longstanding Hospital Mealtime Volunteers and NHS staff have kindly assisted us develop the training process to its high and comprehensive standard. An existing hospital mealtime volunteer commented:

‘I started 3 years ago, I did not get the help that is given now. Lots more help now..’

The project staff have sought on going feedback from volunteers on the training and support they have received to ensure everyone’s needs are met. A snap shot of the feedback surveys revealed:

On a scale of 0 – 10,   100% of volunteers scored 10 ( top mark) for usefulness of the Mealtime Handbook

On a scale of 0 – 10,   86% of volunteers scored 10 (  top mark) for usefulness of the Dietician’s presentation

On a scale of 0 – 10,   100% of volunteers scored 10 ( top mark) for usefulness of the Speech and Language Therapy presentation.

On a scale of 0 – 10,   100% of volunteers scored 10 ( top mark) for how supported they felt on the first day on the ward.

The project’s Hospital Mealtime Volunteer Training Programme consists of:

1/ Hospital Induction

This is mandatory element for all volunteers working in Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust premises. The half day NHS induction organised by the HVS (Hospital Volunteer Service)  team includes:

    • Infection Control
    • Fire Lecture
    • NHS policies and procedures e.g. confidentiality, safeguarding, health & safety

2/ Mealtime Role Training

Two presentations are made in this half day training session, by specialist NHS staff.

Mealtime Assistance Volunteers – please see the ‘Resources’ page to access the PowerPoint Presentation created and presented by Allison Baxter – Nutrition Nurse Specialist at North Tyneside General Hospital.

Hospital Mealtime Volunteers Workshop – please see the ‘Resources’ page to access the PowerPoint Presentation created and presented by Julie Quinn – Adult Speech and Language Therapist Clinical Lead at North Tyneside.

3/ Age UK North Tyneside Induction

We incorporated a basic Age UK North Tyneside Induction into the above half day training session, please see the ‘Resources’ page to access the PowerPoint Presentation created by Julie Dixon-Patterson.

We have always emphasised the Safeguarding process (detailed in the Hospital Mealtime Volunteer Handbook), however a new element of the presentation includes the Age UK North Tyneside Risk Assessment of the ward, which was carried out in conjunction with project volunteers – to comply with our corporate responsibilities . Please see the ‘Resources’ page for the word document.

4/ Handbooks

a) The Hospital Mealtime Volunteer Handbook was given to volunteers at the mealtime role training session prior to starting on the ward , see the Resources page to access this word document. A big thank you to volunteers Ann and Jean who shared their views about hospital volunteering in general which helped us construct a supportive handbook alongside the essential input for the NHS nutritional experts (Anne Geddes – Nutrition & Dietetics Manager and Allison Baxter – Nutrition Nurse Specialist).

Please note, the handbook required official clearance from the NHS Comms team before it could be issued to volunteers. A big thank you goes to Sandra Guy from the NHS, for her support with the process.

b) The Age UK North Tyneside Volunteer Handbook (which is provided to all our volunteers irrespective of role)  is professionally published booklet  which gives more detailed information on the volunteering policies and procedures Age UK North Tyneside have in place.

5/ Observation and ward training

Project Staff  introduce each volunteer onto the ward and stay on the ward till the volunteer completes their first mealtime session to gauge how the volunteer coped and if they require further support and training.

Volunteers are first introduced to senior ward staff  i.e. Ward Manager and Ward Sisters, volunteers must report to a senior member of staff each time they arrival on the ward. Senior ward staff are responsible for allocating a ward staff member (Mealtime Co-ordinator) to supervise all volunteers during mealtimes. If volunteers have patient concerns they report these to senior staff (in line with the Safeguarding process detailed in their handbook).

The volunteers prior to going it alone on the first day are teamed up with experienced mealtime volunteers, to first observe and then feed patients with the support of another volunteer.

6/ Training and Support Feedback form

Volunteer are asked to complete this soon after they start their role. Please see the Resources page to access the feedback word document template.

7/ Ongoing Support & Training

Obviously on going volunteer support is essential to retain volunteers and resolves issues at an early stage, both from the volunteers perspective and ward staff. Regular visits to the ward are made by project staff and volunteers get regular phone calls and e-mails.

We have learnt that it is best to team up two volunteers per mealtime shift, this works well from both a peer support aspect and does not over crowd the ward (as patient numbers and support needs are variable)

On the 15th August 2013 we held a volunteer training session, where the Ward Sister Gemma Williams introduced and discussed the new mealtime routine. This was a great shared learning event and really brought it home to the volunteers on how valued their contribution to the ward was (both views/experience  as well as their mealtime assistance). The new protocol ‘Ward Staff Supervision of Volunteers & Volunteer Responsibilities’ written by the ward sister in collaboration with Age UK North Tyneside, has now been issued to volunteers and wards staff. Please see the Resources page to access the protocol.

Within the last few weeks we have secured Person-Centered Training for all project volunteers (previously only available to our observation volunteers) and the first Mealtime Volunteers to benefit from this on the 29th October will be Ann, Jean, Mary and Mel. Our new Volunteer Officer Carole will accompanying the volunteers, as the training with ward staff is a valuable joint learning opportunity for all. Please see our earlier post February Milestones (6th March 2013)  to find out more about the training.

Finally a great result from a volunteer’s six month review stated:

‘ Initially depressed after an operation and since starting to volunteer …. this has influenced my mood and resulted in the depression going. The volunteering has given me a focus and opened up new job opportunities.

Please see the Resources page to access the volunteer review word document template.

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