I didn’t have any concept of what a hospice was let alone an adult hospice, I’d not been in one before, but all that changed when I volunteered to help at Mount Edgcumbe Hospice in St Austell. I found out very quickly what fantastic, peaceful places they are and now I look forward to my shifts.
It all began when I saw an advert in the local paper appealing for volunteers and I instantly thought well I could do that. I’d been a paediatric nurse and was later a Senior Sister at a Special Care Baby Unit where I’d spent a lot of time with parents and families. I’d also trained at Great Ormond Street Hospital so had developed what I see as valuable skills that could be useful in a hospice ward setting. I started in March last year (2016) and haven’t looked back.
My ward duties include clearing the breakfast things, sorting the flowers, ironing, ordering stores, serving morning coffee and tea, helping with the lunches and tidying up afterwards. I consider it my job to be honest, working most Mondays from 8.45am to 1pm and some Wednesdays. I get such a lift from knowing I’m helping the staff by taking on jobs they don’t need to be doing. I relieve the pressure for them so they can concentrate on the care. What’s more I feel very rewarded by the thanks of the staff and the families. I look forward to my shifts and I can honestly say I feel elated being part of the team here supporting patients from the age of 18 onwards, and their families.
I chose weekday volunteering as weekends are my time with my family and I also support ‘Shared Lives South West’, sharing my life and home with adults with learning disabilities. This includes respite care for dementia sufferers. We also have a small holding so I certainly keep busy.
It’s hard sometimes to see people in distress, especially if the patient is young, then it seems worse somehow, but equally a highlight for me was when the daughters of a Mum who was with us gave me special hugs to say thank you for being there and for listening to them. I used to be a Samaritan so have developed important listening skills that stand me in good stead.
I’ve gained such a valuable insight in to adult hospice care. A volunteer role like this isn’t for everyone, I understand that, but I get to help in such a lovely place where it’s light, bright and full of caring people who look after each other and value what you do when you’re there.
It’s inevitable that we are going to die but for those who come here, the environment is one of peace and dignity, which is wonderful. I’d encourage anyone to try volunteering in a role like mine as it’s so rewarding.