Two million steps!

29th October 2021

Cardiff and vale hospital runners

An amazing group of 41 new volunteers signed up with Cardiff and Vale University Health Board to undertake the role of hospital runner. The role was created to help families and friends get essential items to the patients, some of whom had come into hospital as an emergency and others had been in hospital for weeks or months. No visiting was allowed during this time except for end of life patients and families and friends were unable, and in some cases too frightened, to come into the hospital.

The volunteers based themselves either in the Macmillan Information and Support Centre, University Hospital of Wales or the Information and Support Centre, University Hospital Llandough, the two largest hospitals in Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan. The Information Centres are near the entrance to both hospitals so that relatives would not have to come too far into the hospital.

The volunteers, supported by a member of the Patient Experience Team, met the relative or friend, took bags of clothes and essential items from them, made sure the bags were correctly labelled and cleaned them, complying with infection control guidance. The volunteer then took the bags to the relevant ward and handed it over to an appropriate member of the nursing team. If there were dirty clothes to be returned to the family, the volunteer would then bring these back from the ward and hand them over to the family. This service proved to be invaluable to families and friends who found this period of being unable to visit extremely difficult. The volunteers also took the time to listen to relatives’ concerns and signposted them to staff if they needed additional support or advice.

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Most visitors were anxious about coming into the hospital, with many not having left their houses during the past few months. The volunteers offered them a listening ear and dealt with them with sensitivity, compassion and empathy. Some relatives were too frightened to wait in the hospital, so volunteers would arrange to hand over any bags outside the entrance. This was even more valued during the run up to Christmas when the volunteers were able to deliver Christmas presents to patients and gifts to staff from grateful relatives. Feedback was very positive, with many visitors giving the volunteers thank you gifts for their kindness during this time. The volunteers also fed back to staff any concerns about the service and the Patient Experience Team were able to change the service to reflect this feedback.

They worked well as a team with a maximum of three volunteers per hour to enable them to socially distance. It was a great example of intergenerational working and included volunteers from many ethnic backgrounds, young and the (slightly!) older generation. Volunteers with a disability were welcomed into the team and buddied up to make sure they were supported. The service ran from October 2020-May 2021 and the volunteers provided 929 hours of cover. Volunteers took property to 2,259 patients and brought back dirty washing from 1,237 patients. This equates to over two million steps!! Many of the Hospital Runner Volunteers are continuing to volunteer - as Meet and Greet volunteers in our hospitals and in the Mass Vaccination Centres.

You can read more inspiring stories here.