I volunteer at my local hospital
In 2007 I was advised by a friend to go to the local Volunteer Centre. When I visited Volunteer Centre Borders I found them very helpful and they had me fill in forms about the kind of volunteering I was interested in and gave me a lot of information. I left it with them and was surprised with how quickly they came back to me, asking if I’d be interested in new volunteering role recently created at the local hospital. When I said yes, I then met up with a Consultant Microbiologist at the hospital who gave me an informal chat about the volunteering role they were creating in the Infection Control Department.
The hospital gave me a thorough induction that helped me explore how I’d feel about volunteering in this kind of environment, how I’d handle seeing things that were not always pleasant. I was given a tour of the laboratory, met the infection Control Team and visited community hospitals to see how they handle the transfer of patients and how issues were flagged up. The need to adhere to the strictest of confidences was also emphasised to me during this time. Once we were both satisfied that I was still interested, I met a number of staff in the laboratory and Public Health who told me more about the role. It gave me a good insight into infection control and the hospital’s wish to get members of the public involved in raising awareness about the issue.
In January 2008 I also got involved in and EGroup for the hospital, where they send us public information documents for us to feedback on before they go to print to make sure they are easy to understand.
I’ve also got involved in a national initiative called the Cleanliness Champion Programme which is a college based ecourse run by the Training & Development Department about infection control procedures. It’s the same course taken by the staff and I’ve learned a lot from it, so much so, it has sparked my interest and I go to the library to find out more!
Overall, I think my volunteering has reassured me about the cleanliness of hospitals. You tend to see only the bad publicity in the media but I have yet to see a ward where there is a problem with hygiene. I can see that the Infection Control Team is doing positive things about infection control.
It’s also been a good learning experience personally. I like learning and following academic courses so this has given me the opportunity to learn about things I never would have otherwise.
All the staff I have come across have been helpful, supportive and polite. When I was involved in a hygiene audit on some wards, staff would ask me what I was doing when I would be standing at the entrance to a ward for an hour or so and when I told them I got positive feedback. I feel the staff do the best they can, often in difficult circumstances and it’s good to be part of getting the message out there.
I feel valued as a volunteer and really enjoy it. NHS Borders work as a team and in my experience they look after and support their volunteers.