Volunteers have been recognised for their contributions at Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Trust (WSHFT) after receiving a rating of ‘Outstanding’ in their CQC inspection.
I recently visited St Richard’s Hospital in Chichester, a service provided by WSHTF and one of the ten hospital trusts we have supported through our Helping in Hospital programme. WSHTF was particularly interested in implementing impact volunteer roles for young people who have day to day contact with patients. More specifically, it designed a dining companion role where young volunteers are trained to assist, feed and accompany patients at mealtimes. Most of the young volunteers attend after school or college, which is increasing support on the wards for evening meals (usually lunchtime support is preferred amongst older volunteers).
As the CQC report noted:
‘"Volunteers from across the hospital were keen to tell us about how much they enjoyed working at the hospital. They told us they were supported and accepted as a part of the hospital team. Those working in clinical areas described a sense of belonging and felt their work helping people to eat and drink or occupying elderly patients was valued."
“The hospital had 'knowing me' volunteers who spend time with older patients, talking and listening and helping with activities. Ward staff felt that volunteers enabled a more person-centred delivery of care and offered reassurance, stimulation and comfort to patients.”
During my visit I met many enthusiastic young volunteers as well as members of the nursing staff that have taken the volunteers under their wing in their wards. Staff openly expressed their appreciation of the volunteers they work with and the benefits they offered to the staff such as releasing time to care, which in turn can reduce stress and pressure on the staff (although this is difficult to measure). This staff buy-in and acceptance of the benefits volunteers can bring to their hospital is a vital starting point for integrating volunteering into any Trust structure.
Alongside staff buy-in, celebrating and recognising volunteers' achievements is also a key in supporting and retaining your volunteer workforce. Lisa Ekinsmyth, Head of Patient Experience at Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Trust, tells us of a specific example of a young volunteer going above and beyond her role:
“Amy started to volunteer with us as a dining companion and she was sent a letter of appreciation by Amanda Parker, Director of Nursing, for the exceptional level of care and compassion she demonstrated on Becket Ward. An observer noted that she interacted with a frail and confused gentleman in such a calm and natural manner. Although he appeared very angry; he was anxious and wanted to go home and find his wife she did not let it worry her. Amy sat next to him and spent time with him chatting in a friendly way; although he was reluctant to eat initially he soon calmed down and with encouragement from Amy they did decide to eat something. Amy was thrilled to receive her letter of commendation from the director of nursing.”
I left St Richard’s Hospital feeling positive for the future of volunteering within our hospitals. A big thanks to all the volunteers and staff for all their hard work and commitment in making volunteering a success across the Trust.
Ou report Helping in Hospitals: A guide to high impact volunteering captures the learnings and best practices from the hospitals in the programme on setting up and measuring impact volunteering within a hospital setting.