King’s Lynn hospital’s appeal for ward companions

Queen Elizabeth Hospital ANL-150320-162251001
Queen Elizabeth Hospital ANL-150320-162251001

An appeal has gone out for volunteer befrienders who could make a difference to patients with cancer or dementia.

Lynn’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital has launched the ward companion scheme to provide additional support for patients, many of whom are in their final days.

Companions, who will be directed by the nurses, will spend time chatting to patients along with offering friendly support such as helping with food and drink.

Macmillan Cancer Support and Information Centre manager Alexis Mack says the volunteers will make a big difference.

She said: “Our patients and their families will know there will always be someone to listen and chat to them. They are not alone. It also frees up time for already-busy medical staff to carry out other duties.”

The hospital has already run a pilot scheme, which proved to be a big success with patients, families, carers and staff.

It is hoped the revamped and expanded ward companion scheme will begin at the end of July.

Dawn Slack, matron for Shouldham Cancer Ward, said: “Our target is to have companions here for the patients seven days a week. Our staff recognise and appreciate their support and the patients like just having someone to chat to.”

Volunteers will be offered full training, including coaching in listening skills along with a mentor to shadow.

The mentor will make sure the new volunteers are given the support and guidance of experienced companions in their first duties.

Pat McCallum, an experienced ward companion, said: “I find it so rewarding and the patients really appreciate us being here.”

To volunteer email Alexis Mack at alexis.mack@qehkl.nhs.uk, or call 01553 613985. Interviews will be held before training.