Volunteering at my local hospice has taught me a lot about patient care, for instance I now realise how many different people are involved in providing support and treatment for the patients. Throughout the day, nurses, physiotherapists, doctors, nutritionists and volunteers work together as a multidisciplinary team to make sure that the patients are comfortable. I was surprised at how much there was available to do at the hospice – we put on craft activities, talks or patients can have a massage or have their hair done.
Although many of the patients have similar illnesses or symptoms, each person is unique and we treat everyone as an individual – many people like to have their own particular arm chair that they like to sit in, or a particular biscuit or cup for their tea. Everyone chooses their own meal from a menu and they can request special food or treats. It’s so important to keep the hospice sterile and we make sure to keep clean and wear gloves when preparing food or tea, but take them off when we serve the patients, to be less clinical. I’ve noticed how small things like these make the hospice such a comfortable and homey environment to spend time in, helping the patients to feel at ease.
I’ve also seen how much the patients gain from their time at the hospice. They are able to talk to each other and relate to each other about what they are going through. Many of the patients told me how they get annoyed when people say “I know how you feel” because they don’t, but having the support and reassurance of others going through the same or similar conditions can be really beneficial. The hospice is a place where people aren’t afraid to talk about how they feel and they can say that actually, they’re not feeling fine when asked how they are.
I’m really enjoying my time volunteering at the hospice. It’s improving my communication skills; talking to the patients about their families or outings or jewellery is really fascinating and I’ve been lucky enough to meet some lovely interesting people. I’ve also greatly improved my domino skills after playing so many games with the patients there!