National Volunteer Week gives the country an opportunity to stop and recognise the unsung heroes of their communities. Nationally 1.2 million kiwis volunteer time and expertise. At Waikato Hospital, we rely on more than 200 volunteers to help deliver health services.
Waikato Hospital volunteer coordinator Chris Atkinson said almost every building in the hospital has a group of volunteers that help nurses and doctors go about their daily duties.
“Our volunteers bring us the gift of time along with skills, dedication and enthusiasm, care and compassion. In return we hope they enjoy satisfying roles that give them a sense of making a difference,” she said.
Atkinson said of our 219 volunteers 130 work directly with patients, 56 with visitors and outpatients and 33 are in administrative and support roles.
“Our volunteers come from many different places in the Waikato – Raglan, Kawhia, Morrinsville, Te Awamutu, Ngaruawahia, Cambridge – one even from Rotorua.”
The Waikato Hospital Hosts help more than 44,000 people per year find their way around the campus by providing directions and assistance to visitors and worried family or whanau.
Waikato DHB volunteers have a range of expertise and skills. Below four volunteers have explained the many reasons they donate their time to Waikato Hospital.
Peter Arnold – Older Persons and Rehabilitation volunteer
I used to work for Department of Corrections running rehab units for offenders. But 2.5 years ago I was knocked off my bike in a hit and run accident. I spent a month unconscious and another few months with anterograde amnesia – basically every 10 seconds my life started again. I had to learn everything again. How to turn the shower on – which was hot water tap, which was the cold water tap. It took me a year to learn how to walk again. I am proud of that but I am also very proud of my family and the great support they gave me to do that.
As a result of my accident I lost access to lots of things. My job. My licence, my colleagues. But one thing I remembered when I was in hospital were the people that came and visited me. They were volunteers. They would do puzzles with me, talk with me. My life was saved by someone who volunteered to save me on the street. My life was enriched by those volunteers that visited me in hospital. I am now becoming part of the volunteer community and what I am finding is what goes around, comes around.
Being a volunteer is part of that equation. You just offer your help and you are richer for it.
I am not sure how the equation works, but goodness accumulates. Volunteering is about contributing to some good happening in someone else’s life. I feel very comfortable and happy to be part of it.
Debbie Shepherd – Volunteer singer
I am one of the people that live on the outskirts – mum, mother and singer.
I have been volunteering for two years. I have sung a lot in my life; I came last year to sing for chaplaincy week. After that I said I wanted to do it more regularly. The next thing I knew I had my photo on a card hanging from a lanyard on my neck and I was here singing once a week. It is really fun. Music is a wonderful thing in life.
I used to wish I had more growl and grunt in my voice, but I have found my smooth and soft voice works really well up here at the hospital.
I am so privileged to be part of the volunteer team.
I have had some interesting reactions. One lady came right up to my face and said surprisingly “oh, it is you singing” and I nodded and thought to myself ‘yes, and I am still singing’. It’s interesting to see what impact my volunteering has. Sometimes the patients take my folder and say “tell me what you’ve got” then they pick what I am going to sing. The most common seems to be Close To You by The Carpenters. And that is really lovely because I wasn’t sure what I would sing when I first started, but doing those old love songs for couples in a bit of trouble is quite special. At the end of the day, music has always been good for me but it is also good for others. Singing here is the most useful thing I have done.
Brian Lafferty – Friends of Emergency Department (FED)
Volunteering is sharing, be it time or expertise. My parents had six kids so we did a lot of sharing and I have run a not-for-profit most of my life…it’s called parenting.
In my job as a FED, I release the staff to be able to do the things they should be doing. When I got into the ward, I was first shown how to make a bed – a lot better than how I made it a home.
There are many people I get to help, but I remember this one man who was obviously a man of some substance. He had suitcases of things and some very dapper clothes. I had been called to render some assistance after he had an accident in his bed.
I held him up as the nurse changed the bed and I remember him saying to me “I have been in control my whole life, but I’m not now”.
I just said to him, “No mate, we all need some help sometimes”.
As I said that his whole body relaxed.
I am a FED and that’s what we do.
Marian Macdonald – Oncology and Haematology volunteer
I worked as a tea lady for 16 years in Ward M5. Of course, that is oncology and haematology. Sometimes when I was working there you would know a patient just needed something a bit special because they couldn’t stomach food and were going through their chemotherapy. After I retired I took some time off but then wanted to come back and help because so many patients don’t have anyone.
I knew some days I could make something a little easier for someone by just tidying a bed or grabbing a cuppa.
It is a very very rewarding job been a volunteer.