Volunteers’ Week 2021
NCH&C’s Volunteer Service has 300 volunteers who provide help in a range of roles across the trust: greeting patients at reception, directing them to their appointments, providing entertainment and companionship to patients, supporting ward staff, and collecting feedback to improve our services.
Unfortunately, around 20% of our volunteers have been unable to volunteer on-site over the past 18 months due to the pandemic. At a time when staff are more stretched than ever, we have implemented a new scheme to help address some of the issues created by this shortfall: Digital Volunteering.
Digital Volunteering is a new approach which allows us to involve volunteers in communicating with patients, visitors and staff using technology. This includes phone calls, video conferencing and other platforms. These roles could be completed on-site or remotely from the volunteer’s home. Digital Volunteering presents an exciting opportunity to engage some of our longstanding volunteers who are currently stood down due to being particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 and offers new avenues to provide support to NCH&C patients and staff.
Digital Volunteering encompasses a range of potential roles at NCH&C. For example, volunteers could be involved in:
- Supporting patients as they receive ‘virtual visitors’, both on the ward or from home, by providing guidance on setting up the relevant software for both the patient and visitor
- Contacting patients and visitors to remind them of upcoming appointments and COVID expectations
- Collecting valuable feedback and information through existing surveys such as FFT and This is Me
As the Digital Volunteering scheme progresses, we’d like to explore more ways of supporting patients and staff. We’re happy to consider any ideas for how technology can be used to enhance patient experience, whether this is virtual exercise buddies, online gaming, or check-ins to ensure patients are settling back in at home after a hospital stay. We can be as innovative as the ideas you suggest!
What difference has Digital Volunteering made during the pandemic?
With teams thinly-stretched, our Digital Volunteers have been able to pick up some extra slack. Although it may seem like a small thing, checking in with patients to ensure they’re able to attend their appointments and inform them of any COVID-related procedures helps save clinical teams time and resource. This, in turn, allows them to invest their time and energy elsewhere. The pandemic is a marathon, not a sprint, so we need to make things easier for each other wherever we can.
Additionally, attending hospital appointments during the pandemic can be a nerve-wracking experience for patients that have been shielding. Something as simple as a telephone chat with a Digital Volunteer can help alleviate patients’ concerns, especially if they are able to communicate the measures NCH&C has introduced to keep patients safe.
Virtual volunteer Abi:
Pictured above is one of NCH&C’s virtual volunteers, Abigail Lawrence, phoning patients to carry out the FFT survey. It’s all done online, so no paperwork needed!
Want to find out more about volunteering at NCH&C? Click here to go to our Volunteers section.