Therapeutic Care Supported volunteers – South Tees NHS Foundation Trust

1st July 2020

This amazing team of supported volunteers are the heart of therapeutic care. We believe their disability or difficulty makes them the gold standard in volunteering. They know how it feels to be anxious, lonely and scared, so they are best placed to help our patients. They have no preconceived ideas about the NHS, they just want to make people smile.

Dom is a patient advocate and tells us when the organisation needs to change practice to support patients with Downs’ Syndrome and a learning disability. Phoebe, a role model to everyone, has a learning difficulty and started as a volunteer when she was 16. She is now employed in my team. Brian is deaf and when we have a patient who signs it’s a delight to watch their happiness when he can sign and communicate with them; it is such a gift for us as a team.

We have a number of volunteers in wheelchairs who mentor new volunteers and talk to patients about life in a chair, how they are managing, and giving real examples of how life is for them. One of our volunteers is paralysed from the chest down and is an important part of the spinal unit where he spends time with patients and families talking about his experiences. As an organisation we are lucky to have this awesome group of people supporting us.