The roles of volunteers in acute trusts

Volunteers are engaged in a wide range of roles in acute trusts. Here is a selection of some of their roles, taken from our survey of acute trusts in England.

A&E

Volunteers cover reception desks in A&E. They direct patients, provide assistance to patients and families, and carry out short patient surveys on discharge from A&E.

Audiology services

Volunteers provide a simple repair and battery replacement service.

Audit and inspection

Volunteers help the trust to undertake audits and help to organise mock Care Quality Commission-style inspections.

Complementary therapy

Volunteers deliver complementary therapies such as reiki, massage, aromatherapy and reflexology to patients and carers.

Creative word and art workshops

Patients of all ages, their family and carers get time to relax, have fun and think about something different together.

CV and interview workshops

Volunteers from a leading recruitment company help patients and carers think about how they address their cancer experience in job interviews, CVs and applications. This included how to talk about time taken out of work due to illness or care responsibilities, addressing physical and mental changes, and thinking about communicating new skills developed as a result of their experience.

Dementia volunteers

Volunteers work across the hospital and in the community to ensure the needs of patients with dementia are being met.

Dining companions

Volunteers help during meal times, holding patients’ hands, reading out menus and giving a service to those who are not able to cope with meal times by themselves.

Feedback schemes

Volunteers are used as the ‘eyes and ears’ of the organisation, tasked to go on wards and observe, speak with staff and patients, and feedback information.

Guides

Volunteers provide a guiding service, which is particularly important when a hospital has more than one entrance.

‘Kissing it better programme’

This uses non-medical therapies such as poetry and story-reading, music sessions, beauty treatments, bingo and other ideas to lift spirits and create a pleasant environment while people recover. It focuses on making a difference to patients, adding to the clinical care and enhancing the overall experience of patients, relatives and staff.

Meal-time volunteers

Volunteers ensure patients have a positive meal-time experience by eating and drinking properly, through support and encouragement.

Pharmacy

Volunteers work at the pharmacy desk greeting patients, recording basic details and providing general information and advice on waiting times. This enables staff to focus on providing medical advice and preparing medicines. It helps provide a friendlier, faster and more customer-focused service.

Place

Volunteers assist with the unannounced inspections and check the hospital, for example, for cleanliness and quality of food.

Supporting roles

Volunteers assist with issues encountered on the wards and agree areas of key action.

Surveys

Volunteers are involved with the collection of patient experience data. They also support the collection of ‘friends and family’ data.

Testing

When a policy change takes place, for example a change in the visiting hours, volunteers are asked to collect feedback, speak to patients, relatives and staff and report back to the management team.

Ticker Club

Stroke patients who are also volunteers will attend cardiac wards to describe their experiences and coping strategies to patients who are suffering from heart attack and/or related conditions.

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