Queen Elizabeth Hospital
My name is Dom, I am 24, and I volunteer on the trauma and orthopaedic ward and have been volunteering for just under 6 months. My duties include making tea and coffee for patients, changing the water jugs and talking to patients.
I wanted to volunteer to give something back, growing up around a caring environment with my gran caring for my granddad as he was blind and my mum working as a child protection officer, a caring nature has been instilled in me from a young age. I also wanted experience in a healthcare setting and to help the overstretched workforce that work so hard to care for us when we are at our most vulnerable despite all the added pressure of working in the NHS.
What difference do you feel your volunteering makes, to patients, staff and yourself? For me, the reward of giving your time for others without expecting anything in return is something that is incomparable with any other career. For staff, even relieving them simple tasks allows them to do their job and focus on caring for patients. Even something as simple as checking in with a patient as to how their feeling can really help when they are in hospital for a long time. You can really create a connection with a patient when you chat to them and learning about their life experiences is truly inspiring and is what keeps me coming back. For patients not having a visitor for a long time, you can see how much it positively changes their experience for someone to take the time to sit down with them and have chat
Are there particular skills or previous experiences that you have found beneficial in your volunteering?
Having a performing background I’ve always been a people person and I love a chat with others and hearing about their experiences. I’ve always loved seeing people cared for and happy and for me to be the reason for that improvement is really self affirming.
Was there anything that worried you about volunteering? How were you supported with this?
Being my first experience on a ward style setting and knowing how busy the ward is I felt slightly intimidated by it but got comfortable very quickly thanks to the help of an experienced volunteer to show me the ropes helped me settle in quickly. I was slightly worried about how to handle emergencies that could happen at any time as I didn’t meet the main staff on the ward and sometimes didn’t know who to turn to when a nurse or Health Care Assistant was needed.
Is there a memorable moment as a volunteer that stands out to you?
I remember a female patient being quite visibly upset and crying as she felt quite confused and was upset that she’d had no visitors for a while. I sat with her and held her hand and listened to her and despite her confusion, I was able to calm her down just by talking to her and she was always happy to see me when I came in as I felt I’d become a sort of loved one alternative for her and she mentioned to me that she felt a lot more comfortable by seeing me come in every day.
Has your volunteering led to anything else? From volunteering, I have been able to use this experience to my advantage as the healthcare experience has helped me achieve a place at university to study adult nursing, including the 4th best nursing school in the world! and eventually, become a registered nurse and hopefully progress to becoming a senior nurse consultant or an advanced care practitioner.
What keeps you coming back to volunteer?
The patients and seeing them get better and go home to their loved ones is what keeps me coming back, the indescribable feeling of giving your time to others and having that appreciated also keeps me coming back. It really puts things into perspective for you when you see others at such a vulnerable time. I would recommend volunteering to everyone, especially younger people, it can really shape how you deal with all types of people, build your confidence and helps you appreciate your loved ones more.
Would you recommend it to others and what advice would you give to volunteers and staff?
The advice I would give to anyone volunteering is to embrace every moment that you can when you are helping people and take the time to just take a step back and observe the amazing NHS workers doing their job, they do so much for people despite added pressure and I think when you see it in real terms it really increases your appreciation for the workforce and what they do, have pride in what you do and be kind. Kindness can really help not only patients but improve the experience of staff who are most of the time rushed off their feet. Volunteers are always welcomed and highly appreciated even when you’re doing small tasks as every little helps.