There are many excellent examples in NHS hospitals today where volunteers are making a difference to patient care. Over time we’ll be adding more roles as they’re tested by our hospital partners.
At West Suffolk, and Chelsea and Westminster created a pool of hospital volunteers are on stand-by to help patients and staff with a wide variety of tasks – from fetching a prescription to helping transfer a patient to X-ray. Dedicated volunteers use bleepers which means staff can contact them from across the hospital. This had lead to extremely positive results, particularly for the patients as it avoids unnecessary delays in their discharge process. It has also been very popular with the volunteers who use FitBit wearables to count their steps around the hospital and get fit in the process.
“The Volunteers work hard, reliably, and punctually. I have no idea what we'd do without them!”
At University Hospitals Southampton the average age of inpatients is 77. They were seeing that many of their older inpatients were not getting enough exercise and the resulting muscle deterioration could lead to them being stuck in hospital longer than necessary. They did a study called SoMoVe that involved volunteers helping patients get up and moving, and its success has led to it now being deployed across the trust.
"We are all very focussed on keeping people up and moving to help maintain and improve function, preventing deconditioning and deterioration."
ED volunteers for older people
Many of the elderly patients who present at Emergency Departments and Urgent Care Centres are vulnerable. They may be frail and at greater risk of falling and they may find it difficult to understand what is happening, because of dementia or other cognitive impairment. Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust have developed a role for volunteers to engage with patients within these settings to perform the initial part of a screen of patients ≥ 65 years of age for falls and cognitive impairment. Working closely with staff, the aim is to improve patient experience and to improve general awareness of delirium, dementia and falls risk.
"I was with a patient today who had dementia & I stayed with her for 2 hrs. I really enjoyed myself today, trying to make a difference and improving someone’s life.”