A new appeal is being launched at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn’s to offer additional support to patients, many of whom are in their dying days.
The Trust is asking for volunteers for a ward companion scheme, to be launched during the national Dying Matters Week, starting on Tuesday, May 10. A pilot scheme has already proved a success, appreciated by patients, families, carers and hospital staff alike.Alexis Mack, a Macmillan Cancer Support and Information Centre manager, has championed the ward companion scheme from the start, and is urging potential volunteers to “Be the difference that makes a difference.” It is hoped the revamped and expanded ward companion scheme will begin near the end of July.
Companions, who are directed by nursing staff give time to chat to patients, suffering with cancer, dementia and other serious illnesses. As well as this they also offer friendly support, such as helping with food and drink.
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.
Alexis Mack, Macmillan Cancer Support and Information Centre manager 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.”
Dawn Slack, matron for Shouldham Cancer Ward at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital went on to say: “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.”
Pat McCallum, an experienced ward companion, said: “I find it so rewarding and the patients really appreciate us being here.”
Heike Schaefer, end-of-life facilitator for the local NHS Trust, said: “The patients always come first. The companion scheme means patients and families know we are caring for them in their often difficult and distressing times.”