Volunteers with Disability

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Created by Ashleigh Key - Last updated 22 days ago | Tags:

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17 August 2022 at 8:58am
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Hi everyone,

I am the Volunteer Coordinator for The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust. We have received a request to consider whether we could provide volunteering opportunities for a young women with cerebral palsy. She is quadriplegic, drives an electric wheelchair and communicates via a computer aid, she also has a carer with her during the day. Her family say she has recently become very interested in giving back to the healthcare community and has regularly talked about the possibility of volunteering in hospitals.

I was wondering if anyone has any experience in this or have any advice, guidance for suggestions for me? I.e. what kind of roles would be most suitable.

I think this would be a fantastic opportunity and i truly believe that everyone should have that chance to volunteer and give back to an organization that means a lot to them!

Any advice, suggestions and support would be very much appreciated!

Thank you!

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Chevron
17 August 2022 at 9:15am
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Hi Ashleigh,

At Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust we have recently created a Peer Support Volunteer role description for volunteers who would be happy to support another volunteer with disabilities or other vulnerabilities to carry out their role if needed, either on a temporary or permanent basis (we haven't actually placed anyone in the role yet as recently created and no requests since). We will recruit Peer Support volunteers as and when they are needed by new volunteers, to ensure that they are suitable for the particular person/situation. Initially, we will try to recruit a Peer Support Volunteer from our existing volunteers as they will have more experience to support another person but we will recruit externally if required.

Alternatively, we have had situations where a support worker has also volunteered alongside their client; in this case, the support worker has also registered as a volunteer so has also gone through our recruitment procedure.

We have also recently placed a wheelchair user in a volunteer receptionist role - reasonable adjustments should be considered as long as it does not place an inordinate strain on staffing or financial resources for the department.

Gina Barr

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17 August 2022 at 9:26am
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Hi Ashleigh,

We had a volunteer called Paula with CP and used an electric wheelchair. She could verbally communicate without an aid and didn't require a support person. She volunteered in the Meet and Greet role, greeting patients when they arrived and either verbally directing patients to where they needed to be or she'd escort them. She did it for about six years and was great in the role. If a volunteer needs a support person, that support person undertakes all the training, including mandatory and induction on behalf of the volunteer and must always be on duty at the same time as the volunteer to ensure their safety, avoid risks etc and help them in the role. If the support person is provided through an agency, we have a MO with the agency that they've undergone recruitment checks that we are satisfied with, but if it's a family member or friend, we would put them through the trusts onboarding process just like the volunteer. Hope this helps and am happy to discuss further.

17 August 2022 at 10:10am
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@Heather Wright This is a great idea! I considered to perhaps ask her Carer, who is her mother, to perhaps volunteer alongside her to support. I will definitely bring this up with the family! Thank you :)

17 August 2022 at 10:27am
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Hi Ashleigh

At South Tees we have had amazing experience with volunteers who are wheelchair users and have carers with them

We provided adapted training for the volunteer and the carer so in effect both were registered volunteers

Role vary from way finders. postal support for departments to ward based support as in spending time with patients in our long stay wards

It is part of our programme that we have learnt from in terms of adjustments and inclusion and absolutely worth the time to make it work

Debi

17 August 2022 at 11:01am
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How about a conversation with the volunteer to see what they feel they could do? As with all volunteers I try to match them where they want to be can use their skills which helps towards them having a good experience as a volunteer and sustained volunteer placement.

18 August 2022 at 5:31pm
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Hi Ashleigh,

We have had 2 volunteers who are wheelchair users, one started in meet & greet and is now doing a mix of that role with an admin support role for another department. The other started in IT as that was her interest and after a few months they were so impressed with her, that they recruited her and she is now a staff member and has been working with the trust about 2 years. Neither of the volunteers needed support.

A little different, but we are now working closely with MENCAP and have one young person that is autistic and they have a coach/mentor that comes in with them on their shifts to support for as long they are needed. The team leader where the young person is based supervises in the meet and greet role and all instruction is from staff. We have 3 more young people from MENCAP starting with us in September.

Not thought about that mentor/coach being trained as a volunteer but if the volunteer was a wheelchair user and needed a high level of support that you mention, I would adopt the processes highlighted in other comments with regards to training etc.

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