31st July 2014

Hospice volunteers give valuable support in the community

St Richard’s Hospice’s community volunteers offer practical support at home to patients and their families, giving a helping hand with a wide range of everyday tasks.

As part of the hospice’s ethos of holistic care, it recognises that those who have a life threatening illness can find it difficult to manage the day to day tasks that still need attention. Over the last three months, nearly 50 dedicated community volunteers have donated 430 hours to offer practical support and companionship to patients and their families. This support, like all of the hospice’s services, is provided free of charge for as long as required.

Volunteers help with tasks such as light housework or gardening, walking the dog, accompanying patients to appointments or shopping, or just offering time to chat. This often means that carers can take valuable time out to do personal tasks such as attending their own appointments or taking part in carer support groups.

Community volunteers are fully trained in confidentiality, health and safety, manual handling, and listening skills. Volunteers are supported by the hospice’s family support team and attend regular peer support sessions to ensure that they meet their own needs and are able to discuss their experiences of caring for patients and their families at such difficult times.

One community volunteer describes what her role means to her: “Over the last year, I have been visiting a patient on a weekly basis, doing a little light housework or shopping. The last half hour is usually spent having a cup of coffee and a ‘natter’. She is a very independent lady and used to find it hard to have to ask me to do things for her. When I see her by the window looking out for me or waving me off when I leave, I feel that maybe I am making a little difference to her life and I find that very rewarding.”

Patients and their families say that they find the service extremely helpful. One carer said; “This service has been a lifeline to me and enables me to go out for a few hours. Having someone to sit with my husband has put my mind at rest as he doesn’t want me to have to give up my hobby because of his illness.”

The community volunteer service has been designed to help patients stay in their own homes for as long as possible. As the service helps more people, St Richard’s Hospice will be looking for more very special individuals. We would love to hear from anyone interested in finding out more about this rewarding and valued volunteer role. Please call us on 01905 763963.