Dec 14th 2017

Trust in volunteer deal with HelpForce

Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals Trust is one of five Acute NHS Hospital Trusts working with a new organisation – HelpForce – to develop new volunteer roles and create a best practice model for volunteering in hospitals and other patient settings.  

The organisation has been set up by Sir Tom Hughes-Hallett, Chair of Chelsea and Westminster NHS Foundation Trust to accelerate improvements in the involvement of volunteers in the NHS. Backed by many healthcare and voluntary sector leaders, HelpForce wants to double the number of volunteers working in the NHS by 2021 so that more patients and NHS staff can benefit from their time, help and care.

Trust Chief Executive Toby Lewis said: “I am pleased that we have been selected as one of the pioneer Trusts working with HelpForce to look at new opportunities for volunteers. We are committed to seeing how the NHS can make best use of the valuable contribution that volunteers make every day. We are greatly supported by hundreds of volunteers who support our hospital and community services and we work in partnership with a number of voluntary and community groups in Sandwell and West Birmingham. These strong links give us a good foundation for developing new volunteer roles that can make a difference to the experience of patients and their families.”

Our volunteers, with Liza Gill, Volunteers Service Manager (Front row second left) and Kajal Sondhi, Volunteers Service Officer (Front row, right).

HelpForce is starting with a focus on critical moments in hospitals where staff and patients would benefit from additional support, for example at meal times or discharge from hospital. It is also prioritising volunteer help for patients who do not have their own family or wider support network.

Previously CEO of Marie Curie, Sir Tom Hughes-Hallett has seen the difference that volunteers can make.  He said: “NHS staff deliver brilliant medical care but both the system and our front line teams are under intense pressure. While we currently benefit from over 78,000 people volunteering with acute NHS Trusts they are rarely integrated into NHS strategies or service delivery plans and this is a missed opportunity.

“We know the benefits that well managed staff-volunteer teams bring, with substantial improvements in patient care sitting alongside positive feedback from NHS teams. We want everyone to experience these benefits as quickly as possible and have developed a focused five year plan for HelpForce to unlock the potential of volunteers across the country.”

A comprehensive report commissioned by HelpForce earlier this year highlighted growing evidence of the positive impact that the strategic use of volunteers can make. For example, volunteer support for patients’ mealtimes has shown that they eat more, and become more satisfied with their mealtime experience. A third of Trusts in NESTA’s ‘Helping in Hospital’ programme found better patient mood, nutrition and hydration levels, and that volunteering released time to care.

To become involved in the programme or volunteer at the Trust please call the Volunteer Service on 0121 507 4855.


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