Ipswich: Hospital’s unsung heores help patients all the way

THEY are the unsung heroes – the people who devote their time to help patients and their families at Ipswich Hospital.

Volunteers of all kinds tread the wards at the Heath Road trust each day. Health reporter Lizzie Parry found out what difference they make.

Many people volunteer to “give something back”.

It gives grateful former patients and their families a chance to show their thanks for the treatment and care they received on the wards at Ipswich Hospital.

Others take up the role because they have “been through it”.

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The reassuring presence of someone who has experienced the same as you offers patients struggling to cope with a diagnosis an invaluable figure to turn to.

For some, being a volunteer gives them the opportunity to take patients’ minds off their stay in hospital.

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All have one thing in common - they make a vital difference to the lives of thousands each year.

They come in all shapes and sizes.

There are those who man reception desks in the outpatients department – helping people unsure of where they are going.

There are the dedicated Hospital Radio volunteers, broadcasting to brighten the days and nights of those confined to their beds.

And there are those who offer a shoulder to cry on, advice and support through difficult times.

Held in the highest regard by the nurses, doctors and support staff at the hospital in Heath Road, the trust’s chair Ann Tate said all of those who give up their time to help out at the hospital are “treasured” by their colleagues.

She told the Star: “I’ve been spending lots of my time meeting colleagues in the hospital since I became chair, and I have been amazed at the difference volunteers make.

“Volunteers are treasured by hospital colleagues and what they do is very much appreciated”.

Echoing the thoughts of Mrs Tate, Alison Syers, voluntary services and work experience co-ordinator, said the trust “could not manage without them”.

“We are getting an increasing number of young people who wish to volunteer for the summer holidays, and medical records is one department where we are able to place young volunteers to support the work of our staff,” she added.

“Normally, we do not encourage volunteers who are unable to commit to less than six months and the young people (16-18) often offer us five to six weeks volunteering during the summer holidays and then reduce to one or two sessions a week when they return to their studies.

“Everyone who inquires about voluntary placements within in the trust is invited to come in for chat about what they could do before they apply and sometimes they are pointed in a direction that they had not thought about.

“The process from the first meeting to placement can take anywhere between three and nine weeks; we always take up references and apply for a CRB check.

“Our volunteers are highly thought of by everyone in the Trust and we truly could not manage without them.”

n What difference have volunteers at Ipswich Hospital made to you and your family? Send an e-mail to lizzie.parry@archant.co.uk

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