C&I Response Service - A helping hand for staff and patients

31st October 2021

Camden Islington

In March 2021. the volunteering service at Camden & Islington NHS Foundation Trust introduced a new Response Volunteer Service in order to provide support to their clinical colleagues as well as patients in hospital settings. The project has successfully contributed to reducing pressure on staff and NHS service at Camden & Islington during the Covid-19 pandemic by ‘Response Volunteers’ picking up non-clinical tasks for staff. This has saved staff time, helped to reduce their stress levels and freed up their time to concentrate on clinical tasks and patient care.

The team anticipated that the introduction of the new ‘Response Volunteer’ service would have a positive impact on supporting staff wellbeing and in helping to take the pressure off them so they can concentrate on more clinical tasks. Data collected so far indicates that this is as predicted. Prior to commencing the ‘Response Volunteer’ services on both hospital sites they undertook a baseline survey with wards staff to gauge their thoughts about the Voluntary Services already provided. 48% of staff who completed the baseline survey did not feel that Voluntary Services saved them any time to do their roles.

However, a new survey of staff one month following the commencement of the ‘Response Volunteer’ service has shown fantastic improvements on how the service has reduced pressure on the staff and the services. Of the 44 staff who completed the second survey: 100% of staff agreed or strongly agreed that the Response Volunteer project has given them more time to deliver good care to patients. 100% of staff agreed or strongly agreed that when the wards are busy or short-handed, the volunteers’ support helps them feel less stressed. 100% of staff agreed or strongly agreed that they believe the Response Volunteer service is valuable to the work done on their ward. Both surveys include responses from a range of staff from Health Care Assistants through to Ward Managers.

After three months these figures all remained high at over 90% of staff (number of staff completing the survey to day = 130 staff). Improving patient experience and safety. The team also hoped the project would improve patient experience and evidence collected demonstrates that the volunteer support has cheered patients up / improved their mood. They have received survey feedback from 54 patients which is optional for them to complete, their responses show: Over 90% of patients agreed or strongly agreed that the Volunteer support they have received has cheered them up / improved their mood. Over 90% of patients agreed or strongly agreed that in general, the Volunteer service is helpful and valuable to them as a patient on the ward.

With staff feeling less stressed and patients experiencing improved mood following volunteer support they hope that this will contribute to increased safety for both in their ward environments. Response volunteers have been undertaking shop runs for staff and patients, which is particularly important for our patients who aren’t allowed off a ward. They have been helping patients to provide ‘Friends and Family Test’ feedback and offering Befriending via the telephone. They have assisted friends and relatives with navigating the hospital on their visits to see loved ones. Delivered post and newspapers to wards and collected and ran swabs to reception for collection. Sorted clothing for patients who arrive without any and accessed our library of books to keep patients occupied. So far they have undertaken over 1,360 tasks and saved staff in excess of 31,800 minutes of time, which can be used to focus on patient care or taking some much needed and well deserved time to look after themselves. This project has enabled the team to further demonstrate to patients that people that aren’t paid to look after them also care about them and their wellbeing. This plays a significant part in breaking down the negative impact of stigma and discrimination that mental health patients frequently face. It’s also important for staff to know that members of the public, like volunteers, care about mental health staff as well as all other NHS colleagues, as often they are seen or feel like the poor relation to physical health services. Their data clearly shows the positive impact the ‘Response Volunteers’ are having on the wellbeing and mood of both patients and staff.

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