Hywel Dda University Health Board’s flagship Volunteering for Health programme was ten years old in October. Volunteers, staff, partners and supporters came together to celebrate with stories, balloons and cake.
Today all Health Boards in Wales have their
volunteering programmes. It is well accepted that volunteers
have a role to play in addressing the social, practical and
emotional needs of patients and that this can enable staff to
perform the requirements of their roles more effectively. But
back in 2006, when discussions about volunteering within Hywel Dda
began, this was not so.
Anna Tee, Patient Experience manager at the
time, described the ad hoc nature of volunteering that existed 13
years ago, with just 39 volunteers spread across the Trust, and the
vision that she and others shared for a more strategic and better
supported programme. Such a vision could not be realised
without a great deal of consultation and listening to feedback -
especially the uncertainties and doubts that were expressed. It
also needed the active support of partners including local county
voluntary councils and the determination to persist when the
earliest funding bids were turned down.
Clarity, support and momentum all grew and a
successful funding bid to the National Lottery in 2008 allowed the
development of volunteering in to what we celebrate today.
In ten years, 2,500 volunteers have volunteered
356,819 hours of their time to the NHS in Hywel Dda UHB. They are
involved in many different ways including as befrienders on the
wards, meeting and greeting in outpatients, pharmacy runs to
collect medication before patient discharge, helping in the A and E
department, children's wards, chemo day unit and in the garden,
supporting the chaplaincy and patients with a learning
David Fretwell, Volunteering Manager said 'there
has been a big cultural change over the years. Staff are now
used to having volunteers around and they are regarded as part of
the team. This is perhaps one of the most outstanding
Lisa Marshall is a Ward Sister in Withybush
hospital where volunteers join the Frailty Worker to provide craft
and therapeutic activity for patients with dementia. 'Volunteers
are fascinated by what goes on on the Ward' she said. 'There
are many examples of volunteers who develop a taste for the role,
going on to obtain employment as a health care worker then to study
and return as a qualified nurse. And volunteers are very good at
finding out relevant facts about a patient's home background, like
whether there are stairs, pets or local facilities. This is really
useful for clinical staff'.
One important way in which volunteers make a
difference is by adding a touch of normality to what is otherwise
an alien experience for patients. Volunteers with the team of
play specialists, for example, help with designing display boards
to create a child friendly environment, keeping toys clean and tidy
and also spending time with children to give parents a respite
break. Sandra Jones, Head of the therapeutic play services
said 'Volunteers are making a difference to the way we work and to
the children and young people that come into contact with'.
David Fretwell recalled a patient in hospital
over Christmas, whose relatives were unable to get in to see them.
A volunteer was the only visitor they had all day. 'It is the
small things that make the biggest difference to people, like being
interested in their lives. The impact is in the smile.
We can't measure it adequately'
For more information see the