Personal connection drives volunteer

Volunteer wearing badge that says dementia-friendly volunteer
Beth Powell is a dementia-friendly volunteer for Fiona Stanley Fremantle Hospitals Group
June 25, 2019

For Beth Powell volunteering to help those most vulnerable was an easy decision.

Beth is part of a new Fiona Stanley Fremantle Hospitals Group (FSFHG) volunteer program that provides emotional and practical support specifically to patients with dementia and delirium.

“My uncle has dementia and I’m acutely aware of how we need to provide tailored care and support to patients who have or are identified as being at risk of dementia and delirium,” Beth said.

Beth said the role of the volunteer was similar to that of a family carer.

“Dementia and delirium can be a profoundly isolating condition, particularly for anyone who may be in an unfamiliar environment like a hospital,” Beth said.

“My job is to interact with the patients and provide person-centred and emotional support.  I’m able to give my time to a patient and engage in conversation to find out what they had done in their earlier years or if they have any interests we could explore through a range of activities.”

“I give but I get back in so many ways – it’s a very rewarding experience.”

FSFHG Senior Project Officer Jane Hopkins said the program is one delirium prevention strategy the hospitals were implementing.

“There are currently 30 trained volunteers who selflessly give their time each week as part of this program,” Jane said.

“Each volunteer has to undertake specialised training that focuses on understanding dementia and delirium and the associated behaviours, communication techniques and person-centred care techniques.”

Staff had noticed a vast difference to patient morale since the program commenced.

“It has been positive to see our patients less agitated and happier in general after seeing the volunteers,” said Jane.

“It’s also great to hear stories from our volunteers, who have risen to the challenge and are providing meaningful care.”

“It’s a win-win for everyone involved.”

The program is one of many ways FSFHG is becoming a dementia-friendly hospitals group.

The program has also commenced at Rockingham General Hospital.

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