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Volunteers of all ages and walks of life, steel workers, teachers, police, local authority and retail to help

20th November 2020

Therapeutic Care COVID vols1

Submitted by Debi McKeown, South Tees NHS Foundation Trust

This group of amazing people came to help us during COVID. They thought nothing of the potential risk they just wanted to help. In total 233 have been with us throughout COVID and more keep coming as we now have mask distribution stands manned by volunteers 7 days a week, 7.30am - 7pm.

They wanted to help and make a difference. Biomedical students answered a call for help and over 30 of them have volunteered in the labs to help with the huge demand. This complemented the lab runner role; volunteers walked the wards every hour to collect samples up until 10pm at night. We had meal runners, who took orders and delivered hot food to staff on the COVID wards seven nights a week. The patients support volunteers included lots of retired nurses and midwives, they supported staff with personal care and interacted with patients. The medical students that joined us got involved in every role we had and developed some new roles such as data collection on ITU.

The water runner delivered 1000s of bottles of water to all wards and departments across the time of the COVID pandemic and delivered boxes of toiletries to staff in COVID areas and all the PPE posters and guidance as it was updated.

With the support of volunteers at EVS blood run we developed a wonderful partnership and were able to deliver 340 care packages to local nursing and care homes, again our volunteers helped us to make up the bags for delivery.

Volunteers comforted patients at the end of their life so they were not alone and they manned a family support line so families could pass on messages and pictures to their loved ones. We had a group of volunteers collecting, laminating and putting up 1000s of pictures for our HOPE wall. The staff really appreciated seeing these messages of hope on their way in and out of work.

We have volunteers in pharmacy and on medication runner rota, this has been very helpful for staff in the department. They have also supported stores with deliveries around the site and collection of PPE when needed.

One of our volunteers was furloughed and has continued to volunteer daily since. He has only had 2 days off in the entire COVID situation; one for his wedding anniversary and one for his son's 16th Birthday. We had to ‘kick him out’ to make sure he spent time with his family on these occasions. He really has been an amazing gent to work with and appreciated by everyone.

Another of our volunteers has done a complete makeover of the garden in neuro rehab so the patients had someone to go to; she sourced plants and we supplied a new hose so patients could get involved.

They both deserve recognition.

There are so many examples of excellence that I could talk about but I want to share the impact and feedback from staff and patients about our volunteers and some of the volunteer’s thoughts.

Roma joined us at the beginning of COVID, she was there for a patient's support and she made a huge difference, she has not seen her loved ones through this time.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed volunteering with a patient and she has been a complete inspiration to me. I do so hope that she continues to make a good recovery with her sight and speech. As she is going home I am therefore a bit "out of a job" and think I will take some time off as my family (with oldies, babies and young children) are due to visit in early August and it’ll probably be good to have some "isolation" time before they arrive. I will come back to you in mid/late August “

Our Service Manager from SERCO worked closely with us to ensure the lab runner role complimented the porter role.

“Can I say a big thank you to the volunteers, they have helped both the trust and my team achieve the target time for samples to reach the lab in order to get tested in a timely manner.”

The St John Ambulance volunteers have made for a great partnership and they have made a huge impact.

Stephen McKenna ED clinical Matron said “Can you please pass onto the volunteers that the ED are very grateful for their support and it has made a huge difference to our patients “

When COVID started we all felt sad to see our existing volunteers have to stay away due to being in high risks categories but to be able to bring in people that immediately understood what we were trying to achieve was unbelievable. The impact they have made will be with us forever and I am delighted some of them are staying with us. Staff have welcomed them and learnt from them. It has been a real partnership and a lot of staff are shocked that people would volunteer at a time like this so really value their massive contribution.

Without doubt they have enabled us to deliver such a high standard service. The Chair of our Board volunteered with us and he enjoyed seeing the hospital from a different perspective, and he could see the benefits the volunteers brought.

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