“I volunteer because I see the difference I can make”

Meet Louise, 23, who volunteers to brighten the days of patients with dementia at [Hospital] in [location]. Hear first-hand what it is like to support the NHS and make a difference with patients.

“Being in hospital isn’t pleasant - away from home, family and routine. Most patients don’t want to be there. Looking after the person as a whole is important. Our on-ward service focusses on improving the stays of older patients, who might be in hospital for longer periods of time or who may be regular patient. 

“I volunteer with the Royal Voluntary Service on-ward service because I can see the difference I can make. The smiles you get when you walk into a room, or the feeling when you make a patient laugh when they’re having a bad day show you how valuable it is.

“Hospitals can be a scary place but having someone there simply to have a chat, to distract you or even make you laugh, can make all the difference. The patients are very well cared for but it is often said that for every 10 days in hospital, 10 years of muscle aging can occur in older patients. Our activities, like gentle chair-based exercises, help to keep them active and engaged.

“As volunteers we have the time to spend reminiscing, doing activities and exercises in a group with some music. Some patients have said the atmosphere on the ward shifts when there are volunteers around, and I like to think we take a little pressure from the ward staff too as they love seeing patients engaged and laughing, and often join in when they can.

“It’s not just about the patients themselves either; it’s also about the family and friends. It is easy to run out of new things to talk about with relatives you may have been visiting for months, but the opportunity to reminiscence about stories from long ago can stimulate new conversations – one relative had no idea how much their Mother had done during the war. It is also a small weight off the minds of family and friends to know people are spending time with their loved ones through the day.

“Care is not just about medical needs, it is also about the social needs of individuals.  I volunteer across the six wards our service covers, five days a week, and know that our on-ward service supports the hospital Trust to fill the gap in social and physical engagement that is needed to fulfil a quick and healthy recovery. I’m more than happy to give my time to help provide this for the patients and the community.”

Marina is a patient on one of the wards that Louise visits.

“I like having the volunteers like Louise here – it changes the atmosphere and helps to break up the day. I don’t do that much during the day, so if they weren’t here to have a chat with, and read a book with, I’m not sure how I would spend my time. 

“They keep us all going while we wait to go home. It makes a big difference in lifting your mood. They are always here and always make you smile and laugh. They don’t expect you to make a big effort - you don’t have to put on airs or make an effort if you feel tired, you can just be who you are.”

Louise volunteers as part of our on-ward services that support patients and the NHS. Find out about volunteering opportunities near you.

Posted by at 00:00 Monday, 01 October 2018.

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