I have been volunteering on a hospital ward for several month now and I think it is time that I reflected on the whole experience so far. So, here are the top 2 (out of 5) things that I have learned so far.
Your patients must trust you.
Over these months, patients have shared many of their traumatic experiences with me. I am very grateful that these patients trusted me enough to share these experiences. I have heard about patients sadly loosing their loved ones and for some, all of their friends and family have passed leaving them alone. It is a honour that patients feel like they can trust me enough to talk about these very upsetting experience. The best thing about listening to the patients when they are telling me their stories is their relieved faces after we spoke. Spending several weeks in hospital leaves the patients with not much to do therefore they tend to reflect on their lives. The reflection can cause anxiety and upset and it is important that they trust you so they can feel much better.
Communication is key.
I know you hear that communication is key in medicine and any other caring profession but instead of just hearing about how important communication is, you should experience it. People vary, there are some outgoing people and some quite people, there are also some aggressive people and some angry people. This been said, the NHS treats and caters for everyone therefore as a medical profession you are expected to be able to connect with different types of patients. I was only able to communicate with people who are outgoing and happy however whilst volunteering I have learned how to communicate with different types of people. For example, there is a male patient who is known for his rudeness and aggressiveness, most of the HCA and nurses avoid him because of his attitude. Over the weeks since he was admitted I have gradually been building up a connection. I have had many lengthy conversations with him and it turns out he was only acting up because he didn’t want a care home to take him as he enjoyed the company of the hospital staff. When I started volunteering I would have never even dreamed of talking to this type of patient, especially in the way in which I did. I would have ran a mile.