National Volunteer Week: Celebrating the altruistic people volunteering in Australia’s private hospitals

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This week (9-15 May) is National Volunteer Week (NVW).

NVW acknowledges the generous contribution of Australia’s volunteers.

Volunteers are a valued and important part of Australia’s health care system. Their contribution to hospitals around the country is an extension of the clinical care and services provided to patients and their families.

To mark NVW, we’re celebrating the wonderful individuals who donate their time to private hospitals around Australia.

Kyra and Chilli – Baringa Private Hospital

Kyra Ensby and her dog Chilli can be found visiting patients at Baringa Private Hospital each week. Chilli has been specially trained to enter facilities such as hospitals and schools.

Affectionately known as the “smile maker”, Chilli is adored by patients and staff alike. In a recent questionnaire, patients said they wished Chilli’s visits were longer and more frequent.

“I had always wanted to visit the hospital and the marketing manager contacted me and we took it from there. I enjoy volunteering my and Chilli’s time to make a difference to a patient’s day,” Kyra said.

“Chilli really enjoys giving cuddles to patients who might like one. We enjoy seeing how much pleasure and smiles are brought to the patients and the staff, and that’s enough to keep returning each week.”

Chilli and a patient at Baringa Private Hospital.

Chilli and a patient at Baringa Private Hospital.

Judy Dover – Brisbane Waters Private Hospital

After spending 51 years as a teacher, Judy Dover wanted to give back to the community in a different way. “Health care is an industry which affects us all and this lovely hospital beckoned,” she said.

Judy is referring to Brisbane Waters Private Hospital (BWPH), where she has been volunteering for two and a half years. She spends one day a week at the hospital, working in an administrative capacity as well as assisting in the day procedure unit.

“Patients respond very favourably to my work and my presence at the hospital. Patients always enjoy a chance to chat, especially when they know I’m not in a hurry like a doctor or nurse and have more time to have a talk,” Judy said.

“The benefits of volunteering far outweigh the small contribution of time that I give. I love volunteering at BWPH.”

Judy Dover volunteers one day a week at Brisbane Waters Private Hospital.

Paul Bryan – The Sunshine Coast Private Hospital

Paul Bryan has been a volunteer at The Sunshine Coast Private Hospital’s cardiac rehabilitation program for the past three and a half years.

“I had a heart procedure 10 years ago and told myself that after I retire, I would volunteer to try to help others that are in the same situation I was,” Paul said.

Paul volunteers every Tuesday and Friday. He supports the clinical team with “whatever help they need”. He said many patients often don’t understand what they’ve gone through and are trying to make sense of their second chance at life.

“I think they appreciate the support from someone who has been there – I can say, ‘look at me’. When they complete their program and walk out smiling, it is incredibly rewarding,” he said.

Paul Bryan says he can relate to what patients are going through.

Sharon – Burnside Hospital

Sharon volunteers two afternoons a week at Burnside Hospital in Adelaide. She helps out on the courtesy desk in reception, delivering patients, visitors, flowers and paperwork to various locations around the hospital.

“We try to offer a friendly reassurance to anyone needing help at what can be a daunting time for some people,” she said.

Sharon has volunteered in various roles for the last 23 years. She is in her third year volunteering at Burnside.

“My role within the hospital is very rewarding. People appreciate the extra service we offer to make their experience as pleasant and comfortable as possible,” she said.

“I think we are incredibly lucky to have a facility of the calibre of Burnside Hospital in our community and I feel very privileged to be part of such a wonderful team.”

Sharon has been volunteering her time to different causes for 23 years.

Vicki Bakker – Bethesda Health Care

Vicki Bakker has been volunteering at Bethesda Health Care in Perth for the past nine years, putting to use the experience she gained while assisting staff and patients in the public system for almost two decades.

Vicki initially worked in the palliative care unit. She then moved into a ‘meet and greet role’ in the day surgery and general wards.

Her dedication to patients and their families led Bethesda staff to nominate her for the 2016 WA Volunteer of the Year awards.

“I feel that the work I do is valuable, and really helps the staff out. I also get a work out as I am always on the move during my shift,” Vicki said.

Bethesda CEO Yasmin Naglazas said: “Vicki was nominated by the staff that she assists on a weekly basis. All of our volunteers are such a dedicated and helpful team, and deserve to be recognised for their contributions.”

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