Volunteers’ Week is about celebrating and thanking those who give up their time to make a difference. The Isle of Wight NHS Trust has over 300 people supporting patients and visitors at St. Mary’s Hospital and across the Island community.
Volunteers give their time to support in many areas of healthcare. From assisting on hospital wards by offering hot drinks, helping with the completion of menu cards, undertaking errands to offering a friendly face when people arrive for an appointment, visit a friend or relative in hospital or attend the Theatre Admissions Lounge for their surgery. Volunteers also support users of mental health services with a variety of activities.
Maggie Oldham, IOW NHS Trust Chief Executive, said: “We are fortunate to have over 300 dedicated volunteers supporting our clinical and non-clinical staff in the delivery of high quality patient care. Our volunteers are able to support patients, visitors and staff by offering extra time and small acts of kindness which can really make a positive impact on the services that we provide. I want to express my heartfelt thanks to all our volunteers, whatever their role and however much time they are able to spend with us. We really do appreciate their support.”
An exciting new development in volunteering has been the introduction of Health and Social Care Level 3 students at the IW College joining as part of their study requirements. Students now have the opportunity to gain experience by volunteering on hospital wards, in the community, mental health and with allied health professionals, supporting their studies and their university placements.
‘Dementia Friends’ have also been developed in partnership with the Dementia Service. These are volunteers who interact with people with dementia to ensure their time spent in hospital is less stressful for them and help patients to feel at ease; giving them the best experience possible.
In addition, there are currently nineteen Community First Responders who are all local, unpaid volunteers trained and dispatched by the Ambulance service to attend life threatening medical emergencies and provide life support until the Ambulance Service arrive. There are also two Co-Responders (Firefighters with medical emergency skills that are tasked and respond for the Ambulance Service). First Responders provide vital support and can sometimes make the difference between life and death.
Louise Walker, Head of the Ambulance Training & Community Response Services (ATCoRS), said: “I am privileged to manage such a wonderful group of enthusiastic, highly valued First Responders. Each and every one is an absolute asset to our community and I can’t thank them enough for being part of the scheme. I hope the number of Community First Responders will grow in the areas that most need them.”
Other areas volunteers support include:
- Ward helpers and befrienders
- Meet and Greet helpers
- Peer Support
- A&E listeners
- Members of the Patient Council
- Patient experience feedback
- Hospital Drivers
Volunteers also work with organisations like Sunshine Hospital Radio which broadcast to the hospital bedside 12 hours per day, 7days a week, and the Friends of St. Mary’s Hospital, who provide the shop, café and ward trolley services.
For more information about the role of a Volunteer in the NHS got to www.iow.nhs.uk. If you are interested in volunteering, please contact the IW NHS Trust volunteer service by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org