Unit volunteers ‘are a big help’

Julie Button, modern matron at the Whalton Unit in Morpeth, is inviting people to find out more about volunteering opportunities.
Julie Button, modern matron at the Whalton Unit in Morpeth, is inviting people to find out more about volunteering opportunities.

Residents who have a few hours to spare to brighten up patients’ stays at a health facility in Morpeth can find out more at an event on Monday.

Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust is looking to recruit people to improve the experiences of those who spend time recovering in the Whalton Unit.

The volunteers would facilitate activities with patients, such as playing cards and other games, reading books and newspapers and reminiscing.

During the drop-in event, which will take place at Morpeth NHS Centre off Dark Lane – Room 4 on the first floor – between 2pm and 4pm, people will be able to chat over refreshments to the unit’s matrons to find out more about the role and how it benefits patients.

Julie Button, modern matron for the Whalton Unit, said: “We are passionate about ensuring our patients have the best possible experience in our hospitals and doing all we can to increase social interaction.

“While we have made great strides in this area, we recognise there is always more we can do, particularly for our elderly patients, and volunteers can play a hugely important role in this.

“Simple activities such as chatting with patients about old times, playing cards together or reading out loud can all help to improve their health and well-being, have a positive impact on their recovery and help them get better more quickly.

“Some of our patients do not have family or friends who live close by to visit them, so it really means a lot when someone comes along to spend time with them individually and gives them a real boost.

“Having volunteers who come into hospital specifically to carry out these activities will help structure them and ensure they happen regularly.

“We’d encourage anyone who has a few hours to spare on a regular basis to come along to the event to find out more. We’re looking for people who are willing to help our patients and ideally have experience of engaging with older people.”

Full training will be given and hours will be flexible. For more information, or if you are interested in the roles but not able to attend the event, call 0191 2031511.

The Whalton Unit is on the top floor of the Helen McArdle care home (Foxton Court), which is in the grounds of the former Morpeth Cottage Hospital.

There are 30 beds at the facility, with services focused on elderly rehabilitation and palliative care. Occupational therapists and physiotherapists work in the unit.

Recruits would become part of the trust’s Hospital Volunteer Service (HVS), which has around 850 volunteers across its sites.

These include meeting and greeting patients and visitors at hospital entrances, working in one of the HVS shops and facilitating ward activities.

Meanwhile, with temperatures set to drop over the next couple of weeks, the organisation is reminding people to use the most appropriate service for the severity of their symptoms.

The Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital near Cramlington is for serious or life threatening emergencies only.

Residents who need urgent medical attention for non-life threatening conditions can go to the 24-hour urgent care centres, which are available at Hexham, North Tyneside and Wansbeck General Hospitals, where they can be seen promptly without having to wait behind more serious emergency cases.

The reminder also includes a ‘think GP first’ approach for most medical problems and a call for people to use their local pharmacy for advice.