Just under 50 Response Volunteers are supporting patients, families and staff at Walsall Healthcare’s Manor Hospital and community services during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Prior to the pandemic, Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust had 300 volunteers who provided a scooter service for patients with mobility issues, were stroke buddies, helped with fundraising activities, supported its Chaplaincy –Spiritual Care Team, Self Care Management Team and Palliative Care Centre, and the League of Friends volunteers who were involved in a variety of roles – from working in shops to providing a Host & Hostess service.
Louise Mabley. Lead for Volunteering, explained that almost all of these volunteers had had to step down due to shielding or self-isolating; although four existing volunteers have since returned to lend a hand.
“Our volunteers are invaluable to the trust but as the majority of them are more elderly their safety, health and wellbeing has had to be a priority during this pandemic,” she said.
“We miss them dearly and are keeping in touch with them regularly via telephone, looking forward to when they are able to come back to the trust. But this meant we needed to recruit additional volunteers, and quickly, and we’re thrilled that we have just under 50 volunteers now supporting us at this challenging time.
“We have moved to seven day cover, creating a rota for staff and volunteer coverage, and have created a volunteer hub in the hospital during this time. With the help of our enthusiastic, willing new recruits we have been able to respond well to the urgent tasks that need to be carried out to provide support to our frontline staff in particular.”
Louise said the volunteers are helping with a range of tasks including:
- Daily ‘Food Runs’ – delivering refreshments to staff caring for patients with COVID-19 who struggle to get away from the wards as they are in full Personal Protective Equipment. This provision is also extended to community nursing staff where volunteer drivers are delivering refreshments to community sites.
- Sorting and delivering donated items for wards and community sites.
- Fetching and carrying small items across the trust as required including supporting IT colleagues with the collection of handheld devices from wards which are to be reconfigured to help patients stay in touch with their loved ones via video calls.
- Supporting the General Office team with the collection of deceased patients’ property from wards in order for family members to arrange suitable collection.
- Supporting the Security Team at the hospital entrances to advise people of visiting restrictions and offering hand sanitiser to those essential visitors allowed access.
- Supporting the Voluntary Service with undertaking health and wellbeing calls to existing volunteers who are currently self isolating.
She added: “Other roles and functions are being introduced to support the frontline as the needs are identified.
“We’d like to thank our new Response Volunteers for putting themselves forward to help our trust at this time as they have made a huge impact already with their willingness and commitment. It is really appreciated and is making a huge difference to our staff, patients and their families. They are a fantastic addition to the national army of community volunteers.”