Guest interview with Ward Volunteer Spencer, for National Volunteer Week 2020:
Hello my next name is Spencer, I’m currently volunteering with St Wilfrid's Hospice and have been there for the past 6 months.
Now, I bet as you're reading this, you're thinking, 'Wow, a hospice, that must be sad'. Yes, sometimes it is sad and upsetting, however the care they are given there is amazing - so important and unique. In this article, I want you to understand how I’m helping this amazing place and how it’s helping me build a better future for myself.
What is a hospice?
It is a place where people with terminal illnesses come to be cared for whether it be in the Living Well Centre or on the Ward. I volunteer on the ward. This is where they can choose to come for the final days of their life or for respite, if the family and/or the patient are struggling to cope at home. The main point of the hospice is to manage their conditions through symptom control (i.e. relieving their sickness, pain or confusion).
What do I do as a volunteer?
There is a long list of things I help with: from making drinks and helping at food times, but the main role is to talk to patients and their families. I help them to understand the care the hospice provides, as well as answer any questions they may have (or get the answers from someone else, if I'm unsure).
I think the biggest role, that makes me smile the most when I get home, is making sure every patient and family member feels welcome and well supported; making them smile and ensuring they feel at home by having a good chat with them.
Can it be emotional?
It can be very emotional. I go in to the hospice and volunteer 3 to 4 times a week and meet a lot of people and their families and really get to know them. There are normally around 14 people on the hospice ward at any one time. Sadly, over half of the people who come into the hospice will pass away whilst in hospice care. It can be very sad and upsetting if you get to know them. Sometimes, I go home and shed a tear, but then remember what amazing care they have been given. Being part of that care gives me the most rewarding feeling.
Why did you start?
I started at the hospice when I was 16, because I wanted to give something back to them, as sadly my dad had previously been under the care of St Wilfrid’s Hospice (in the community). Experiencing the nurses compassion first hand inspired me to apply to be on the ward, and I know I want to be a nurse when I’m older.
It can sometimes be upsetting, but if you are a caring person who wants to work somewhere truly special and feel you can help out at your local hospice, please consider working with them. They will always need volunteers. During this pandemic, please help each other where you can! Also, thank you to all the amazing health care workers.
- Ward Volunteer and Member for Sussex on the London and South Youth forum