Aintree Hospital has a well-established volunteer programme, which began in 1997 with volunteers acting as listeners and guides for relatives in A&E. In an average week 800 volunteers provide over 3200 hours of voluntary service in the hospital performing tasks like sitting with patients who need company, serving refreshments and signposting relatives. The service has very high retention rates of volunteers and also acts as a way back to work for many – with volunteers who have served from more than 100 hours having access to a ring fenced interview for any Healthcare Assistant posts in the hospital. Many of the volunteers are older people.
The hospital is currently prototyping a volunteer service on five palliative care wards. Since May 2012, 20 very experienced volunteers have worked with more than 71 patients and their families to provide companionship, comfort and support. Feedback from an initial survey of patients and their relatives has been overwhelmingly positive.
The scheme is being replicated at The Royal Hospital, Liverpool. Aintree are also hoping to expand the service onto wards with dementia patients, using a reminiscence garden and other features to help stir memory and reduce agitation.
For more information see: http://www.aintreehospitals.nhs.uk/careers_at_aintree/voluntary_work.asp