Karen has been volunteering on the In Care ward for 17 years, also being on the rota for the chaplaincy team. She was introduced to St Luke’s after her friend was cared for by the Hospice, and wanted to continue to help after her friend sadly passed away.
Although Karen emphasises that every day is very different on the ward, generally she acts as an “extra pair of unskilled hands, working alongside the nurses with the patients. Just doing things that you don’t need nursing skills to do so they are freed up to do their skilled stuff.”
She said, “It’s nice to spend time with the patients. And each day depends on them; sometimes it could just be nipping out to the shops for whatever they need. I have been seen walking along the road with a pint in my hand from the pub; we offer patients an aperitif before dinner if they are allowed as it can stimulate their appetite. One chap said he really wanted a pulled pint, so I went and got it.
I do ladies hair, its lovely here because they aren’t just treating symptoms. For the ladies if they have always looked after themselves it can be difficult to keep hair appointments etc. The nurses think about the whole patient, I offer to do their hair or nails or the nurses ask me to give them a pamper. If they leave their bed for a bath or shower I can strip the bed so it is fresh for when they get back. It’s the little things that take the pressure off.”
Karen is extremely positive about the time she has spent volunteering at St Luke’s. “I just love it. It is life-enhancing it really is. It is a two way street, there are benefits to having someone helping out but it is a lovely place to be and being around people who are so caring and committed. It’s what you would want yourself.
All the volunteers are different, there’s no ‘type’ and I think that’s lovely. We all click with different people on different levels.”