QUEEN Alexandra Hospital hosted an afternoon tea party to thank its volunteers and celebrate the fantastic job they do.
The hospital currently has more than 600 volunteers utilising skills from a range of different backgrounds including teachers, medical practitioners and engineers.
Carole Weeks, from Portsmouth, has been volunteering at the hospital for the last 10 years.
Carole said: ‘I currently work on the Stroke Ward where I help to feed those patients who can’t feed themselves. For people who may have lost full use of their arms this may involve cutting up the food to manageable sizes. I find the whole experience very rewarding, particularly when the patients get better.’
Many of the volunteers have been inspired to give something back to the hospital after experiencing their own medical problems.
Gill Cameron has volunteered for the last 12 years after the hospital saved her life after being diagnosed with esophageal cancer.
Gill said: ‘The hospital cared for my mother when she was dying and then gave me life-saving treatment after I was diagnosed with cancer. Working in the hospital shop is my way of giving something back. It’s great to know that any money made in the shop is invested back into the hospital to help people.’
Fellow shop volunteer, Marie Tucker, joined the hospital after having to medically retire from her job.
‘I worked as a midwife from 1977 to 2007 when I had to retire due to multiple sclerosis. I said at the time I won’t worry about what I can’t do but would concentrate on what I can do. I retired in November and was working in the shop by December. I wanted to do something which would make a difference and it’s great to be part of a fantastic team,’ said Marie.
Sally Sines has worked at Queen Alexandra for 35 years – the last nine of which as a volunteer after having to medically retire due to Parkinson’s disease. As a result of deteriorating health Sally has subsequently spent long periods of time in hospital.
Sally said: ‘I work with new staff to provide perspective as to what it is like to be a patient in hospital.’
Sally has also set up a volunteer group to help support those patients who may not have close friends or family to visit.
‘Hospital can be a lonely place and so I have set up a Happy to Chat group to ensure patients always have someone to talk to,’ she explained.
In addition to front line patient care, many of the volunteers utilise past careers and expertise to support the hospital.
Former science engineering lecturer, Bill Ware, works with doctors carrying out research projects to ensure any communications with patients can be fully understood. Bill said: ‘There‘s a lot of technical jargon in medicine. We provide feedback to doctors to ensure information is patient friendly and can be understood.’
It is not only people who volunteer at the hospital – patients also receive visits of the four legged variety.
As reported in The News, Clara the blue merle collie, and her owner Frankie North, can regularly be seen treading the corridors of QA. Frankie wanted to give something back to the hospital in recognition of the care given to her son after he suffered a stroke at the age of 44. Frankie said: ‘I volunteer at the Trust as a payback for all the care and support myself and my family have had over the years.
‘I really enjoy volunteering with my therapy dog Clara. I feel we are in a privileged position to see the pure joy and relaxation animal contact can bring to both patients and staff.’
For hospital chief executive officer, Mark Cubbon, the tea party provided an opportunity for him to personally thank those dedicated individuals who volunteer at the hospital.
Mark said: ‘Our volunteers are an integral part of the workforce – they are the glue which binds our teams together. In what is National Volunteers Week we wanted to make sure we said thank you for the amazing work they do.’