A GROUP which helps to improve the experiences of patients in South Tyneside is celebrating its first birthday.
Since its launch last June, the Hospital Volunteer Service, which is a partnership between South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust and South Tyneside Council for Voluntary Service (CVS), has gone from strength to strength.
The volunteers were initially introduced to the elderly care wards and then the stroke unit at South Tyneside District Hospital in Harton Lane, South Shields.
However, there are now 22 of them who cover a variety of wards and more are beginning their training. Lorraine Lambert, the trust’s chief executive, said: “We have a fantastic tradition of volunteer support and we are delighted that this newest group is making such a positive contribution.
“I know that the small, personal touches they provide mean so much to our patients and make their stay in hospital, which can be quite a daunting experience, more pleasant.
“At the same time, by taking on some of the non-nursing, non-clinical duties, which are important in terms of patient care but which can easily and appropriately be carried out by non-nursing staff, they are freeing up some valuable nursing time.”
As well as supplying companionship, the volunteers help patients at mealtimes and with their hobbies and interests, and perform personal tasks, such as hairstyling and applying hand cream.
Pat Donaldson, of South Shields, who was one of the original recruits, said: “I thoroughly enjoy it.
“You really feel appreciated by the staff and the patients love it when I do things, such as their hair, for them.”