Sister Nichola Cairns – Western Health and Social Care Trust, Altnagelvin Area Hospital

21st October 2019

As a Health and Social Care Trust we welcome and support volunteers. One Ward Manager who stands out in this respect is Sister Nichola Cairns, who is in charge f the Trauma and Orthopaedic Ward of Altnagelvin Area Hospital. Having identified a need for volunteer Dementia Friends, she looked at the training and support needs involved and how best to incorporate this voluntary role into the day to day running of her busy ward.

Sister Cairns, with her team, devised a role and a risk assessment. Patients and their families or carers were consulted. Through her leadership, the staff team see how volunteers can benefit everyone. Her style of leadership ensures that all grades of staff are involved in supporting volunteers.

In addition, Sister Cairns has introduced a Ward Dementia Champion who works closely with the Trust’s Volunteer office to identify and source items needed for the Dementia Friend role.

Sister Cairns gets to know the volunteers by name and makes them feel welcome. She has created a culture of saying ‘thank you’, ensures volunteers have a person to answer questions or issues that may arise, and she keeps volunteers up-to-date with what is going on, such as staff changes or future plans.

Sister Cairns leads committed volunteers who are motivated and dedicated to their area. They understand they are valued and this translates into positive volunteering experience for all, and in particular for the patient. She’s an all-round wonderful lady!


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