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We are incredibly lucky to have Ian

10th November 2020

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Submitted by Kensa Cooper, Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust

Before COVID-19, Ian Ghaleb carried out not one, not two, but three different volunteer roles with the therapy team at Lewes Intermediate Care Unit, Lewes Victoria Hospital. He showed compassion and empathy, particularly when having sensitive conversations with patients due to be discharged from the hospital in his role as Health Champion. Where Ian really excels is in his ability to support patients to maximise their potential and remain positive about their ongoing progress once they are back at home.

Ian continues to give up a large portion of his spare time to volunteer. As part of our COVID-19 response, he came forward to help in any way he could, once again taking on three different roles, supporting a variety of staff teams and patients across High Weald, Lewes and Havens. We are incredibly lucky to have him. His flexibility, willingness to help wherever needed and his positive attitude are inspiring. We know from patient and staff feedback how valued he is, and we know that the Intermediate Care Unit is desperate to have him back in the next few weeks as we move to fully restore our volunteer roles on the wards.

Pre-COVID-19, Ian supported patients during the Seated Exercise Group, always maintaining a positive and encouraging attitude. In this role, he got to know some of the patients, which helped to break the ice and supported him to carry out his role as Health Champion. The Health Champion role helps patients in an invaluable way. Ian was able to spend more time with them, signposting patients who were due to be discharged from hospital to services that may be able to help and support them in their own community once they were at home.

If this wasn’t enough, Ian also got up bright and early once a week to support the Breakfast Group, helping patients to feel confident making their own breakfast once they are back home. Ian really believes, as the Trust does, that “our patients deserve nothing less” and he will ALWAYS deliver an excellent service with a smile on his face. In the Breakfast Group one patient said “he’s really been the highlight of my time here, he’s just so easy to talk to”.

When COVID-19 hit, Ian was the first volunteer to call the Voluntary Services office asking how he could help - in any way at all. He became one of our first COVID-response drivers, being on call to pick up and deliver medication, PPE and equipment between the Trust’s sites. He also signed up as a telephone support volunteer, calling lonely and isolated patients for a chat and to provide some company during the pandemic.

When we had a call from our Immunisation Service for volunteer drivers to support with the delivery and collection of paperwork to primary and secondary schools across East Sussex, Ian was again one of the first to come forward wanting to help.

He is an extremely reliable volunteer and is always happy to support other volunteers who are new starters, letting them shadow him and showing them the ropes.

Feedback from staff and patients alike has been excellent. The Occupational Therapy Team Lead for High Weald, Lewes and Havens said: “He is so fantastic with the patients... We are so lucky to have Ian with us as part of the team, volunteering so much of his personal time to us.”

One anecdote fed back was regarding a patient who did not want to get out of bed for any of the staff, but did for Ian – evidencing that he clearly has an excellent way with patients. Another patient said: “I really appreciated talking to Ian, it was great to be listened to and cathartic. It cleared my mind and gave me more peace of mind…”, after discussing the support available when getting home from hospital.

Ian is a valued member of the therapies team, and they are looking forward to him returning to the ward. The combination of roles that he undertakes, along with his energy and enthusiasm, means that he quickly builds excellent relationships with patients, leading to positive outcomes for patients and staff.

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