Through the eyes of a Young People Helping in Hospitals volunteer
Hear why Dinos signed up to volunteer at Southampton Hospital as part of the Young People Helping in Hospitals programme.
Taking the first steps
My first contact with the hospital started at the beginning of the summer when I discovered a volunteering website, following a seminar at university.
I was placed in the A&E department for one week, and for the first time, I was able to see how that particular department of the hospital operated under a normal day. I was able to talk with many people from the staff and by observing them in their daily work I developed a good sense of what made the department “tick”, seeing how everyday hardships were handled by the staff and the amount of strain they were under.
My work experience ended quickly and left me still wanting to learn more and become more engaged in the hospital. That was why at the end of the summer I applied for a volunteer position. I was accepted as a long term volunteer in the department.
What happens next?
Myself and a small handpicked group of volunteers became the first to be placed as long-term volunteers in the A&E department. At first we were shown around the department and then a variety of new tasks that we could now be engaged to do as volunteers were introduced to us.
Furthermore, we were given our special yellow volunteers T-shirt uniform that allows to stand out from both nurses and doctors. That proved to be very important, as it helped both the members of staff and patients to distinguish and easily call for us for help. Now we were free to roam the department and help in any possible way we could!
But what do volunteers actually do in the department?
Our role as volunteers is to assist the staff of the department in providing the maximum quality and the best experience of the health service to the patientswithout substituting the role of the staff, but supplementing it.
From my experience now, I can see that just by being in the department and interacting with people and patients we were able to make the atmosphere of the department less severe and more relaxed. People are happy to see young people help, and the staff always smile when we tell them that we're there if and when they need us.
Moreover, we can supplement the roles of staff in the more practical aspects of care, like getting drinks for patients, and this allows the staff to focus on the clinical aspects of care. We can also help by doing the hospital surveys with the patients, thus helping them decide how well they have been treated and provide more meaningful and honest statistics about what the public feels about the hospital.
Finally, volunteers can add extra set of eyes the department that can help in many different situations. Just offering an extra blanket to an elderly lady that is feeling cold but she doesn’t want to admit it can make the difference.
Now that I have been in the department for a few months, I believe that we are making difference, and we are making the department operate at even greater standards than before. I believe that our volunteer team is setting an example of how a hospital can be better when young people are involved, and proving that volunteering can be a meaningful and practical addition to a hospital.