We have a number of volunteers in the trust, including members of the public, service users and carers. The trust operates eight community hospitals, plus health clinics and health centres across Kent. Volunteers can offer a range of skills and experience to help the trust and complement our staff. Anyone aged over 16 (18 and over in clinical areas) can volunteer.
There are many benefits from volunteering, including:
- personal satisfaction
- contributing to other people’s wellbeing
- personal achievement in accomplishing tasks
- increasing confidence and self-esteem
- community involvement
- meeting new people and reducing isolation
- learning new skills and knowledge
- benefits to volunteers’ health and wellbeing
- encouraging personal pride and fulfilment – the feeling of being valued
- having fun.
How much time do I need to devote?
Anything – a few hours a week or a few hours per month – it is up to you. Some people volunteer more frequently. All we ask is that volunteers are reliable and willing to give time on a regular basis.
What you can expect
- We will support you by providing a thorough induction and supervision.
- You will have access to training to help you complete your role.
- We will pay your expenses in line with our reimbursement policy.
- You will receive a newsletter and regular communication updates.
- You can use the expertise of the volunteer service department, if you need it.
There are hundreds of roles a volunteer can have in the NHS. For example, you could be a ward activity assistant, do some reception work, be a service volunteer or cardiac rehabilitation volunteer.
Or maybe you would prefer to be administrative or clerical support, a ward visitor or helper with the chaplaincy, an arts and craft maker or an events helper.
Volunteers get involved with baby clinics, tea shops, hospital shops, trolley services, dining companions, gardening and are often meet and greeters or help with PAT dogs.
Linda has been a rehab volunteer at Elizabeth Ward at Deal Hospital for a number of years. Hundreds of patients have benefited from her encouragement to do their exercises. She has a professional and compassionate manner with patients and makes a real difference as to whether they make it home or have to go into residential care. She is able to adjust her manner to be sensitive to those in pain, while encouraging those who are resistant to exercise to persevere.
Who could refuse a cheery and friendly smile from Linda? She is always cheerful and reliable. She is also great at supporting new recruits to volunteer and helps them grow in confidence until they are happy to spend time with our patients on their own. She is a model volunteer and a great asset to our team. We feel very lucky to have her and the patients are also grateful for her patience and the time she takes with them.
I have now been a volunteer at Sevenoaks Community Hospital for over five years and I still look forward to Tuesdays as much as ever. Most of the patients are elderly but despite their problems, some of which are really serious, they are cheerful and a wonderful example of how to cope with our own advancing years.
On Tuesdays, I arrive just as the Doctor is finishing his rounds. I visit the two wards seeing which of my patients have been discharged and introduce myself to any newcomers, making sure they are comfortable and they are drinking plenty of water, practising their physiotherapy exercises and generally getting to know a bit about them and hear their stories.
On Tuesday each ward is deep cleaned and the patients are evacuated to the Day Room for the morning. If they are a lively group, we will do a quiz together, have a sing song or get a discussion going, hopefully including lots of laughter. It all helps to build friendships and pass the time.
Most patients are pleasantly surprised by the wonderful meals that are provided by our great, on the premises Chef. At lunchtime, I help where I am needed and then, if I am quick, complete the following day’s menus with each patient before they fall asleep for their afternoon nap. For those who will not have a visitor that day, they might like help with a jigsaw or have a game of Connect or Scrabble.
One of my duties is to complete an iPad Meridian questionnaire with the patients who are ready to be discharged. My IT skills are just about adequate for this task. However, the answers to show up areas which can be improved on and are taken seriously by the Matron. In almost every case however, the staff cannot be praised highly enough – they do a wonderful job which is recognised by most and certainly by me.
This work involved designing an art project suitable for all patients using collage, mixed media and painting, the inspiration of the project was choosing a ‘theme ‘ of Kent to work by as a group picture alongside volunteers Carole Streeter and Janet Pelham.
What does Kent mean to the patients looking at the images that evoked memories, emotions and feelings thus engaging verbally in a creative communication associated with their memory’s leading to a final piece of art work.
Working as a volunteer artist in residence at Hawkhurst Hospital has been rewarding for myself and hopefully for the patients too.
I went through the Cardiac Rehabilitation programme after having heart surgery. The staff were amazing and caring. After eight weeks with their help and encouragement I felt more confident and well, it was then that I knew I wanted be a volunteer to give back what they had given me.
My role is helping to set up the exercise equipment, meet and greet patients and help with heart rate monitors when requested.
I help to reassure patients and am quick to get assistance if a patient is in distress and liaise with staff if a patient gives cause for concern.
I help with their exercises as every patient has an exercise tailored to their needs.
More than anything I am so grateful to the team of physiotherapists, cardiac nurses and exercise experts for including me as part of their team.
- Caroline Wheeler
Volunteer Service Manager
Sittingbourne Memorial Hospital
Bell Road, Sittingbourne ME10 4DT
01795 418300 ext 300
- Maria Swaby
Volunteer Service Manager
Gravesham Community Hospital
Bath Street, Gravesend DA11 0DG