Investing in student volunteers

Volunteers continue to help support us throughout every department and are crucial to the successful operation of the Hospice. In the past, hospices have restricted the activities of volunteers relating to the direct care of their patients. However, the future is to develop volunteering in more creative ways including direct care and care in the community. Our student volunteering programme is one of the latest in a long line of volunteering opportunities that is hoping to move with the times.

What opportunities are available for students?

Students interested in a career in medicine, nursing or one of the applied sciences can apply for a Clinical Support Worker’s role. This is a dedicated 6 month’s programme, working alongside qualified clinical staff to learn many aspects of hands-on patient care. It involves students helping to care directly at the bedside. Students may be asked to answer call bells, read to patients, help move them into a more comfortable position, feed them or help with washing and dressing.

How does the student volunteering programme work?

The programme rolls out each March and September after short but comprehensive Induction and training sessions. Ideally students are in year 12 (aged 17 years) as this proves to be the best time for linking in the volunteering experience with university applications. After contacting us either directly or through our website; interviews are conducted, applications are completed and references are sought. If accepted on to the scheme, students are offered 3 hourly sessions on a weekly basis having firstly attended training and being deemed competent to continue. Placements are for 26 weeks’ duration with an understanding that 20 MUST be completed.

What support do students get on their voluntary placement?

Student volunteers are managed by the nursing team with a named Health Care Assistant who is the link between the In-Patient Unit and the Voluntary Services Manager. Two workbooks and a ‘record of training’ booklet needs to be completed during the placement and these are records of the progress and/or experiences and objectives achieved. This documentation must be signed by both the volunteer and the nurses for evidence of completion of the programme. At the end of their experience they are then awarded a Certificate and a reference letter specifically to support their University application.

18 year’s old Roisin said that she hoped to follow her father, a nurse at the local hospital, into nursing. ‘At first I was nervous but my confidence has grown. I think it’s important to be given an opportunity like this as I now know what to expect during my nurse training. I feel more prepared and I am making a difference’.

Amy says ‘I was apprehensive at first as I assumed the work would be quite depressing, but in fact I would say it’s the opposite. Everyone is so wonderfully caring and it really is a lovely environment to be volunteering in’.

The future of student volunteering

#TeamHerts Volunteering works with organisations across Hertfordshire to offer creative volunteering opportunities to students to support their future development and the future success of local community projects. If you are an organisation that wants to develop your student volunteering programme or a student that wants to get involved in a voluntary placement, then contact #TeamHerts Volunteering or you can contact the Voluntary Services Department at Garden House Hospice Care via phone 01462 679 540; email volunteers@ghhospicecare.org.uk; or visit: www.ghhospicecare.org.uk