Helpforce Champions 2023 Finalist - Cardiff and Vale University Health Board

6th October 2023

Cardiff Vale

Nominated for Volunteer Collaboration of the Year 2023

Video entry

Cardiff & Vale University Health Board’s Voluntary Services was excited to re-launch their partnership project with Skills and Volunteering Cymru (SVC), which had been on hold since March 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

SVC are a volunteering-based charity in Cardiff, whose volunteers support a variety of projects, including the ‘NHS Placement Scheme’. The scheme runs during the academic year, involving a group of SVC volunteers regularly attending Adult and Older Persons Mental Health Service areas at Hafan Y Coed, University Hospital Llandough and in the community. The partnership allows them to realise a larger group of volunteers by sharing recruitment, vetting and training, and the volunteers receive support from both organisations.

This year SVC received over 100 applications for 49 spaces on the partnership scheme. Furthermore, the volunteer training was collaborated between departments within the UHB and externally, including Infection Prevention Control, the Mental Health Practice and Development Team, Dementia Learning & Development Team, and external organisations Digital Communities Wales and Cardiff & Vale Recovery & Wellbeing College.

The scheme aims to improve patient experience through meaningful engagement, and this year the 49 volunteers supported 5 wards in Adult Mental Health Services, 5 wards in Mental Health Services for Older People and 1 community rehabilitation house, for 2 hours every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

Volunteers attended in pairs or threes every week, between November 2022 and May 2023. They made posters of their planned activities which were shared weekly in advance with the wards. Activities included card games, painting, themed seasonal activities, ping pong, cake decorating, darts and more! This valuable opportunity allows volunteers to befriend and facilitate meaningful activities for patients in Mental Health Services. They offer an invaluable service to the health board and community, while developing transferable skills such as communication, team working, problem solving and empathy, all while gaining a unique experience of a Mental Health Setting.

The partnership working between SVC and CVUHB is vital in bringing about benefits for the patients, wards and the volunteers as everyone can make the most of the scheme’s timely start, reliability and duration. The benefit from seeing the same volunteers at the same time each week, creates routine and familiarity for the patient, and each contact makes a difference to someone’s day.

Volunteers gave approximately 2,600 hours during the 22/23 scheme. And from survey results carried out on this year’s project 93% of volunteers responded saying they felt themselves that they had made a big or small difference to the patient(s) they had interacted with. The impact with staff is evident with 100% of staff surveyed saying they would be happy to have the project return next academic year and 100% reporting they felt the volunteers made a small or big difference to their patients.

“This is a valuable asset to the ward. Given current staffing pressures having people to spend more time with patients is priceless.” UHB staff member

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