Liz MacKintosh was the first volunteer back to visit patients at Mount Druitt’s Supportive and Palliative Care Unit after 12 months of suspended face-to-face visiting patients due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“One patient told me that it’s wonderful to have the volunteers back and having a hand massage really took her mind off her worries,” Liz said.
Whilst returning bedside to give patient hand massages has been welcome, lending a supportive, listening ear wasn’t hindered by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Volunteers developed a “Check-in and Chat” service – calling and checking on patients who were managing their palliative care treatments at home during 2020.
Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD) Palliative and Supportive Care volunteer manager, Kylie Clark said the volunteers showed spectacular initiative in developing the phone service to reach vulnerable and isolated people.
It was such a fantastic idea and the patients welcomed the regular calls,” Kylie said.
Mount Druitt Palliative and Supportive Care nursing unit manager, Trish Dalgleish said the return of volunteers brings a sense of normalcy for patients, families, and staff.
“Our volunteers make such a difference to our patient’s wellbeing,” Trish said.
“The interaction the volunteers have with our patients is priceless. They bring in puzzles, iPads, and magazines to keep the patients entertained and stimulated.”
COVID-19 also prevented Westmead Hospital Palliative and Supportive Care volunteers from performing their regular duties – so many took up knitting to make patient blankets for comfort and warmth.
Westmead volunteer Roxy Jansen said she still wanted to do something positive while she couldn’t visit the patients face-to-face.
“When family members saw the colourful blankets on the patient’s bed, they knew that their loved-one was being cared for,” Roxy said
The blankets were such a hit with patients that the Hills Community Aid knitting group have since donated more than 150 blankets to Westmead Hospital.
Supportive Care volunteers have specialised training, which enables them to support patients with life-limiting illnesses along with their carers and families.
If you’re interested in becoming a volunteer for the WSLHD Palliative and Supportive Care volunteer teams, please contact Kylie Clark at firstname.lastname@example.org