Volunteer Story – Mary Edmed, Patient Care Volunteer
Retired teacher Mary from Sutton Valance has been a Patient Care Volunteer on the Inpatient Unit at Heart of Kent Hospice for the past seven years. She is a busy farmer’s wife, mother of three sons and a grandmother of two, with her third grandchild on the way.
What prompted you to join the Hospice as a volunteer?
“I didn’t have any experience of the Hospice but when I retired from teaching I knew I wanted to continue doing something fulfilling. I like meeting people and when I came for an interview I was offered a few roles including working directly with patients. I liked the idea of being there to support patients, but I was worried that I might find it too upsetting. We discussed my concerns and decided the only way I was going to know was if I gave it a try. So I did and I love it.”
Can you describe your role?
“I support the nurses and help free them up so they can spend more time with patients. That may include serving breakfast, helping patients to eat if they need help, changing water jugs, making drinks, putting away laundry and answering call buttons when the nurses are tending to others. I’ve also had training to help the nursing staff move and wash patients but it’s up to each volunteer whether they want to take on those roles.
“Occasionally some patients or their families may want to talk about their concerns or fears. Like the other Patient Care Volunteers, I’ve been trained to be an active listener. I do what I would for any friend or loved one, I offer a hand for comfort and an ear for listening. And if I have any concerns, I have a supportive team of colleagues I can turn to.”
What do you get out of volunteering at the Hospice?
“I get a great deal of satisfaction from volunteering at the Hospice. It’s very rewarding. Sometimes I feel selfish because I’m sure I get more out of volunteering than the Hospice receives from me. I’m always treated very well and am made to feel part of the team. Everybody is very grateful and that makes me feel 100%!”
Is volunteering at the Hospice what you expected?
“Some people think that volunteering at a Hospice is going to be sad and very emotional but it’s not like that at all. It’s a lovely place to work. It’s a very bright, caring and uplifting environment and, contrary to what people might think, we have lots of laughs with patients.”
Do you have any advice for people considering volunteering?
“There are plenty of different roles at the Hospice so there is something to suit everyone. Your help will be invaluable and always hugely appreciated. You can do as much as you want to do but do try to commit to a day or half day a week. I find it helps because then you can plan your volunteering around your other interests.”