Education & Training teams based at The Ashes at New Cross Hospital have been busy putting hundreds of members of the public through their training following a nationwide appeal from the NHS asking people to help out during the Covid-19 outbreak.
Clinical Volunteers have to undergo two hours of training before starting work, including how to make beds, feed patients and correctly use personal protective equipment (PPE), while they also undergo hand hygiene training. Expectations of the role are discussed, and Volunteers are urged to look after their own wellbeing by talking to a member of staff about their experiences during their shift and how it might have affected their own mental and physical health before they leave work.
Once Volunteers have completed their induction, they receive their uniform and badge and can assist wherever needed. The length of each shift worked is negotiated between each department and individual.
Recruits have come from different ages and backgrounds, from sixth formers (aged 16-18) to retired people of 65-plus. The majority are from the working population in their 20s to 50s who have been furloughed from their current posts. There is a healthy mix of men and women, including teachers, dental nurses and people who have had experience in the care industry and want to return to a similar role.
Manjeevan Singh, 17, from Wednesfield, is one of the Trust’s new Clinical Volunteers. A student at Thomas Telford School in Telford, he is currently studying for his ‘A’ levels in biology, chemistry and geography and applied to the Trust after his careers advisor at school invited applications. His work experience has been cancelled this year because of Covid-19 so this opportunity has been invaluable. He said: “I want to go into medicine so I wanted to see how nurses and doctors react to the pandemic. It’s been a great experience.”
Departments across the Trust were invited to apply for Clinical Volunteers. One area where they have been hugely welcomed is Acute Medical Unit (AMU), where they are helping with pastoral care, to replace the social contact of visitors. Following the Covid-19 outbreak, patients can feel very isolated and Clinical Volunteers are the only non-clinical contact patients have. Volunteers might make drinks for the patients, feed them, or just provide a listening ear at what can be a lonely, challenging time. They have also put together puzzle books and word searches to help keep patients occupied.
So far Manjeevan has done shifts lasting four hours on Elderly Care and Maternity. “On Elderly Care I was responsible for talking to the patients and asking if they wanted drinks,” he said. “It was an eye-opener because restrictions on visitors mean patients can feel isolated but they became happier knowing there was someone to speak to. On Maternity I helped the support staff with bed making and safety checks, checking oxygen levels on the beds. It was lovely to see new-born babies and their parents. I can’t wait for my next shift - to talk to new people and make a difference in the community is a good thing to do.”
The Volunteers were all recruited within five days and are now starting work. “We’ve had a phenomenal response,” said Helen Davenport, one of five Trainers on the scheme with Sallie Johnson, Shelley Baker, Jude Turner and Louise Richards. “People are all just really keen to help.”