Sapphire Service – Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Trust
8th November 2018
Winner – Celebrating inclusion and diversity in volunteering
The Sapphire Service, run by Agewell and West Bromwich African Caribbean Resource Centre, and funded by Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Your Trust Charity, sees volunteers working with patients from when they are admitted to discharge, and back at home. The volunteers befriend patients and help them with eating and hydration. While Agewell provides a wider service, the role of the West Bromwich African Caribbean Resource Centre is to target African Caribbean and dual heritage older adults and carers. This project has made such a difference to patients who do not have many visitors. Patient feedback indicates that they felt less lonely and isolated thanks to the volunteers. The Sapphire Service also supports the discharge planning process. Patients are encouraged to identify what support services they need so they can live a full life and avoid readmission. When they are at home, volunteers and support workers provide community intervention for up to six weeks. The project has achieved some fantastic results. The length of stay for the patients in hospital has reduced by 67%. Re-admissions have reduced by 49%. The project looked after 890 elderly patients and 353 of them were from Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds. The project has focused on inclusion and diversity. With the majority of volunteers from BAME backgrounds, patients from the same groups feel more confident asking for help.