Photo: Two of the seven new Volunteer Befrienders recently introduced at Wakefield Intermediate Care Unit; (L-R) Karthi Sieaganesh and Sofia Zammuto.
The Wakefield Intermediate Care Unit (WICU) based at Queen Elizabeth House in Wakefield, has recently welcomed seven new volunteer ward befrienders to their unit to provide patients with additional support and companionship during their stay.
Run by the Voluntary Services team at The Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, the award winning befriender scheme has already proven very successful at Pinderfields Hospital on the elderly care wards, in the accident & emergency department and the children’s wards, as well as wards 2 & 11 and the Cavell Unit at Dewsbury Hospital. There are between 3 and 4 befrienders on these wards at a time during the week.
The services at Wakefield Intermediate Care Unit provide short-term specialist care to people who have been discharged from hospital but need extra support, care and rehabilitation before they go home or to the place where they normally live. The Unit have recently introduced a new stair lift and are planning many environmental changes to benefit patients. There are increased therapy activities sessions for patients to engage in board games, craft activities and reminiscence.
The Trust’s Voluntary Services Management team picked up the national prize for Excellence in Volunteer Management Awards from the National Association of Voluntary Services Managers (NACSM) in September last year for introducing the new ward befriender scheme.
For the volunteer befrienders, the scheme can help them develop both their communication and interpersonal skills, and it can also be a great way to gain experience of working in a healthcare setting for those who wish to pursue a career in the NHS or a community based healthcare setting.
Sofia Zammuto, 17, (pictured) is one of the new volunteer befrienders at Wakefield Intermediate Care Unit, and helps out 2-3 hours per week, she said: “I am really enjoying my experience so far. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed spending time with the patients and I’ve met some lovely people. It’s a real pleasure to be able to provide that extra bit of support and time with the patients.”
Julie Herrick, Clinical Lead –Therapy, at WICU, is delighted to welcome the new volunteers to the unit and said “All of the new volunteers have settled in so well and they are already playing a vital role in the recovery of our patients. They are enthusiastic and are a huge help in assisting with things such as encouraging eating and ensuring our patients stay hydrated. They are integral to our ethos of providing meaningful engagement in therapeutic activities based upon client centred goals.”
The Trust currently has 100 volunteer befrienders, but is always ready to welcome more. If you’re aged 17 and over and think you have what it takes then contact Voluntary Services at firstname.lastname@example.org.