A group of dedicated volunteers are spending time in the community to support people in Coventry and Rugby during the last year, months and days of their lives.
The 10 specially-trained Compassionate Communities volunteers are part of a Coventry-wide scheme run by University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire (UHCW) NHS Trust, Coventry and Warwickshire Partnership NHS Trust (CWPT) and Myton Hospice.
The volunteers spend valuable time with people in their own homes, or in a community setting like a care home. These may be individuals without any close relatives or friends, people whose relatives do not live nearby.
The Compassionate Communities volunteers sit with, talk or read to people, and can offer support to their families too. They give support and comfort, listening to them and communicating any worries to care home or hospital staff or relatives. They also support bereaved loved ones after the person has died.
The new Compassionate Communities service builds on a successful scheme that has been running at UHCW for almost two years. At University Hospital in Coventry there is a team of 14 Support for the Dying Companion volunteers are available on wards, and now there are also two volunteers at the Hospital of St Cross in Rugby. The 16 volunteers have acted as companions to around 200 hospital patients.
Hospice or hospital staff or community nurses refer individuals who may be suitable for the scheme, and then the volunteers, who are registered with University Hospital’s Voluntary Services team, arrange to visit them.
Simon Betteridge, Lead Chaplain at UHCW NHS Trust, said:
“We’ve had a great response to the service since it started in December 2017, and the team have supported around ten individuals and families.
“Our Compassionate Communities volunteer companions offer vital support to people and their families, whether they are in hospital, in their own homes, or another setting.
“The volunteers also support families, providing periods of respite and reassurance for them knowing that their loved one is not alone.
“We are interested in hearing from other dedicated individuals who are interested in volunteering in the community, or at their local hospital, and have lots of different roles available.”
Debbie Nash, Head of Service for the Specialist Palliative Care Team at Coventry and Warwickshire Partnership NHS Trust, said:
“I’m really proud to have our team involved in this much needed initiative. We are very privileged to work with patients and their families approaching the end of their lives who may wish to die at home.
“Being able to access these volunteers means we can offer much needed additional support particularly for elderly, vulnerable and isolated people who may not have close family or friends nearby. These patients are often the ones most in need of some support both before and after the death of a loved one.”
The next date for informal discussions about volunteering as a Support for the Dying Companion in one of the hospitals in Coventry or Rugby is Thursday 12 April at University Hospital, Coventry.
If you’d like to know more about becoming a Compassionate Communities Volunteer, or volunteering at University Hospital in Coventry, please contact Kristine Davies, Head of Voluntary Services, on 024 7696 5146 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.