Val’s approach accelerated the development work on discharge support pilot

8th December 2022

Tayside Screenshot 2022 12 08 155705

As winter pressures began to build late in 2021, and as the wave of omicron rushed towards them, NHS Tayside turned their attention to how volunteering could be harnessed to provide some relief to staff and patients.

They identified a gap for a volunteer role which, for the first time, created a bridge between hospital and home in the very early days following discharge from hospital, in a time period which saw many readmissions to hospital, and they endeavoured to find a partner organisation who was be willing to test the concept of the role.

NHS Tayside struck gold, specifically with Voluntary Services Manager Val Ewan. In addition to her core role which is managing all volunteering activity in the acute settings within NHS Tayside, Val threw herself into the development of a pilot of a Discharge Support Volunteer role with incredible passion and commitment.

Volunteers call patients who are assessed as requiring extra support for a period of 5 days following discharge and, through structured conversation, find out how the patient is managing at home and if they have any concerns or worries. Volunteers are trained to spot areas of concern and will be able to (with consent from the individual) make referrals into appropriate community based services.

Val managed to gain support from the clinical teams during a time when they were under extreme pressure. She attends MDT’s, meeting with Senior Charge Nurses and talks to ward staff to understand how volunteers can add value to the discharge process. She gained agreement that the pilot would take place in 2 wards in Ninewells Hospital in Dundee. Val has been the driving force behind the project, and in a matter of only 6 months has:

  • Led the development of a training package for volunteers
  • Developed the referral criteria, operational processes and documentation
  • Set up and chaired a local steering group
  • Engaged with third sector and community organisations
  • Selected the volunteers
  • Developed the evaluation outcomes and process
  • Trained the volunteers
  • Ensures all stakeholders are kept up to date in a timely manner

The pilot is due to begin on 19th October 2022, and has gained the attention of senior leaders across Scottish Government and NHS Scotland who are eagerly awaiting information on the difference that Discharge Support Volunteers make.

Val’s approach has meant that the development work on the pilot has been accelerated, without compromising on quality. Her openness to get involved in this work on top of her incredibly busy day job demonstrates her commitment and passion for the difference volunteering makes to NHS Scotland.

In addition, Val has agreed to share all of her work in the pilot to support other NHS Boards to adopt a similar approach in future.

“It has been my pleasure to work alongside Val on this project, not only is she incredibly knowledgeable and passionate about volunteering but she is kind and compassionate and a joy to work with.” Janice Malone

Nominated for the 2022 Manager of the Year category

Enjoyed reading this story? Why not read all the Wall of Fame stories here.