Volunteers on the award-winning Engage programme were rewarded for their commitment to patients at Salisbury District Hospital at the programme's long service awards.
Around 66% of patients in hospital are aged 65 or over and need some form of short or long term care. Stimulation and social interaction can help alleviate some of the problems that older people could face when they suddenly find themselves in an unfamiliar environment.
There are around 60 Engage volunteers who are trained to provide psychological support - visiting different wards and sitting with the patients, talking to them and using techniques such as quizzes, discussion groups and memory games that help keep patients motivated.
There were 37 volunteers who were rewarded for one, two and three year’s outstanding service since this Stars Appeal funded programme started in 2011. Those who were able to attend the special ceremony were presented with their certificates and badges by Chief Executive, Peter Hill.
Antoinette Bloomfield, Engage Coordinator said: “Our volunteers do a remarkable job and see around 3,500 patients a year. We know that older people can often lose independence when they come into hospital and develop psychological problems such as anxiety and depression. Our research suggests that the work of our volunteers is improving levels of depression, anxiety and their length of stay in hospital.”
Since the programme started Engage, which is run by the Clinical Psychology Department at Salisbury District Hospital, has won a local Striving for Excellence Award and reached the last three in the country for a National Health Service Journal Award for Innovation. It was also highly recommended in the National Patient Safety and Care Awards.
Its success has seen the programme bought by other NHS hospitals in Dorset and Wales and has recently been nominated for a Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.
Professor Nigel North, Consultant Clinical Psychologist and Head of Service said: “Our volunteers bring an extra dimension to what our clinical psychology team does here at Salisbury District Hospital. One of our patients said of our Engage volunteers ‘they gave me hope, made me laugh, they made me feel like me - a real person again’. This speaks volumes for our Engage volunteers.”
Peter Hill Chief Executive at Salisbury District Hospital said: “I cannot begin to quantify the impact that all our volunteers have on our patients and the enormous contribution they make to the hospital and the local community. Our Engage programme is just another example of the way volunteers can be used innovatively to provide additional support to the care given by our staff. I am so glad to be able to recognise our Engage volunteers and the clinical psychology team who created the concept and who are the driving force behind this truly inspiring programme. I thank them all on behalf of our patients and the local community. ”
Notes to editors
- The Engage project provides volunteers with an opportunity to give something back to the local community. Volunteers gain hands on experience as well as the opportunity to have training in specialised areas such as dementia, communication difficulties, depression and many more. They also have the opportunity to attend supervised sessions with clinical psychologists.
- The Engage project has been running for four years. It initially began with five volunteers working on two wards in the hospital, and as the project has developed, we now have around sixty volunteers working across the hospital.
- The Salisbury team have now trained volunteers to work in other hospitals in conjunction with the organisations that are interested in using the project.
- We are always looking to expand and develop the project all the time. If anyone is interested in becoming a volunteer they can contact the Clinical Psychology Department on 01722 425105 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org