Our 9 dedicated Mealtime Volunteers, friendly 4 Well-being Volunteers and 4 inquisitive Observation Volunteers plus our efficient Administration Volunteer Liz (below) have been busy over the past couple of months. Here’s a snap shot into their world.
Wellbeing on Ward 3
After loosing our first couple of Wellbeing volunteers, we realised the need to facilitate volunteers to form their own support teams on the ward and for us to hold peer support meetings on a regular basis. Alf, Amy and Malcolm (below) all work together on a Wednesday afternoon on Ward 3 in North Tyneside General Hospital, chatting with patients and playing the odd game of dominoes. This is especially important for older patients who don’t have visitors or who have dementia and need to feel safe, valued and occupied (aided by our box of reminiscence activities).
The first project volunteer ‘Get Together’ on 24th April, a wine and cheese evening for with Age UK existing volunteers from the Befriending and Enabling Service went down a smoothly with a lively hint of humour. Plans are afoot to do this again in summer, if it ever comes! The Mealtime Volunteers for once got to relax and enjoy their share.
A full complement of 10 mealtime volunteers on ward 9 at North Tyneside General Hospital is now days away; volunteer Kathryn will be starting once her NHS clearance comes through. A big thanks to our affiliated mealtime volunteers Ann, Jean (below) and Mary for coming onboard the project and providing invaluable support and observation opportunities to new volunteers. We are now able to provide support at lunch and tea times during the week and Modern Matron Tracy Young is keen for us to help at weekends too.
Spotlight on Observation Volunteer – Dawn!
Q: How did you find out about volunteering for Hospital to Home?
A: Through volunteering already for Age UK, North Tyneside, Befriending and Enabling Service. Gary [manager of the service] mentioned the Project and the fact that I may be interested in volunteering.
Q: Can you tell me a little of your early background?
A: I trained as a nurse and qualified in 1984. I left to do social work after studying for a degree in Sociology and Psychology and a diploma, DIPSWA. I worked for North East Council for Addictions (NECA). After that I worked for six years as a Domestic Abuse Co-ordinator at Wearside ‘Women in Need’. I suffered a brain hemorrhage then went back part-time, one day a week.
Q: How did you get interested in volunteering in general?
A: I did some volunteer work on the management committee of the domestic abuse charity. Then I worked for the Citizens’ Advice Bureau (CAB) for two years, signpost people into volunteering, including ‘Age Concern’. Then I went to Age UK, North Tyneside on the befriending service. I love being a befriender but also wanted to do ‘Hospital to Home’.
Q: What appealed to you about ‘Hospital to Home’ and the observation role?
A: ‘Hospital to Home’ uses my nursing experience. I really enjoy the observation aspect and seeing how things have changed. Hexham General Hospital was a really unusual set-up with its individual rooms and being laid out in a circular fashion.
Q: How do you feel about the training you were given?
A: Both training days were very valuable for different reasons. The NHS training was learning more about dementia. The story about the man who couldn’t walk any further as he thought he would fall off the edge due to a colour change in the flooring really resonated with me. The in-house training with Julie and Pam prepared me for the role and re-emphasised dementia consideration in hospitals. As a group [4 observation volunteers] we get on really well.
Q: How do you feel you were supported on your first observation?
A: I would have been shocked and unprepared if I hadn’t observed Julie first. It was good to observe with the observer.
Hunt for Wansbeck & HexhamVolunteers
Having learnt valuable lessons from establishing volunteers in our local hospital, North Tyneside General, we are now set to recruit volunteers further a field in neighbouring Northumberland. We have enlisted the help of our partner, Age UK Northumberland, and their volunteer Co-ordinator Anne Rains (below), to recruit people for Wansbeck and Hexham General Hospitals.
Initial staff engagement at Wansbeck, has revealed that news of our good work has spread. The ward sister Amanda Malby is very keen for volunteers to start on her ward 6 as soon as possible. Just to prove Northumberland, our furthest English county, gets sunshine occasionally, Anne kindly agreed to have her photo taken outside the Ashington office.