“Two weeks before a patient died, she asked if she could have her hair coloured. Her husband had never seen her with grey hair and she wanted him to remember her as she had always been.”
These are the words of one of St Richard’s Hospices’ volunteer hairdressers and one of the many poignant stories she has heard over the years.
Trish Carrey is a veteran volunteer. As a mobile hairdresser she had all the skills needed and approached the hospice to offer her services; the hospice had never had a volunteer hairdresser before but 13 years on, her work has become invaluable.
Trish explained : “Looking after our patients’ hairdressing needs really makes a difference to them; it’s a role that is an important part of a patient’s therapy, helping to enhance their general wellbeing.”
Since beginning her volunteering, Trish has been joined by two more hairdressers and a barber; between them, they offer a little bit of pampering that may well have become less important to a patient since being diagnosed with a life-limiting illness.
Trish concluded : “Not only is the role personally very rewarding, it is also extremely beneficial to the patient. Often, they will open up and find solace in talking about their experiences in an entirely normal situation.
“We have also been fortunate enough to receive donations from local salons which adds that little bit extra.”
Claire Gijselhart, Day Hospice and Out Patient Manager at St Richard’s Hospice said : “The benefits of volunteering are enormous to an individual, their family and their community. The right match can help people reduce stress, find friends, reach out to the community, learn new skills, and even advance a person’s career.
“We depend on volunteers in almost all of our work to fulfil our goal of providing free care to patients and support to their families.”
In the last year alone, the hospice’s volunteer team – of almost 1000 – cared for 1195 patients and more than 1000 family members, carers and loved ones.