Monday 10th September 2012
In part two of this edition of Sharing good practice, Macmillan Volunteering Advisers Zoe Harrison, Rebecca Steadman and Hannah Webb look at case studies that show how volunteers can make a difference to your service.
To read the first part of Sharing good practice, please scroll to the end of this page and follow the link.
A welcoming smile
The Robert Ogden Macmillan Centre is part of the Information, Care and Support Service offered by Leeds Teaching Hospitals. It aims to complement the care that people affected by cancer receive in the hospital. With seven staff in post, the centre celebrated its 10th anniversary last year and offers a variety of support services and complementary therapies for patients and their families.
Macmillan Information Care and Support Manager Sadie Smith says the different experiences volunteers bring make a real difference to the centre’s service.
‘Our volunteers are on-hand at the centre to welcome patients, and provide cancer information and support. Volunteers also help to run some of the centre’s self-help and support groups and provide complementary therapies such as massage, reflexology, reiki and aromatherapy.
‘Some of the complementary therapy volunteers come from a local college offering postgraduate training. They are fully qualified, which is crucial, gaining experience and enhancing their skills. Others approach the centre wanting to offer help through their skills, and occasionally we recruit volunteers during open days at the centre. In total, 65 individuals support the work at the centre each week,’ Sadie says.
Christine is a receptionist at the centre on Monday afternoons. She likes the fact that her role makes a difference to people who use the centre by providing patients with a familiar and welcoming face during a time of confusion and stress.
Having volunteered at the centre for 10 years, she describes it as a lovely place to work. Christine says she feels appreciated and valued. ‘Patients may come in just looking for someone to talk to so it’s very rewarding if they go away feeling a bit better.’
As part of their development, the centre provides volunteers with training opportunities for their roles and the chance to train in other roles, such as hand and foot massage or scarf tying, to enhance the services within the centre and nearby oncology unit. Christine has also volunteered on the wards and since becoming a receptionist she has conquered her phobia of using the telephone – and has learned to use a computer.
‘Around 3,000 drop-ins and telephone enquiries were handled last year in addition to those who had already made appointments. Volunteers have been integral to the centre and it couldn’t offer its services without them,’ Sadie says.
A listening ear
Macmillan Cancer Information and Support Service Manager Janice Watt
was delighted to nominate her volunteers for a NHS Scottish Health Award and even more so when she found out that they have been selected as finalists.
‘Volunteers are fundamental to the service, providing emotional support and a listening ear to anyone affected by cancer. Without volunteers we couldn’t afford to run a drop-in on two days and one evening per week,’ she says.
‘We offer a drop-in service based in the library at the Bridge in Easterhouse, Glasgow. We are expanding into Dennistoun Library and have recently recruited six more volunteers, increasing our team to 18.’
Janice has found many other benefits from involving volunteers within the service. The volunteers offer a wide range of ages and experiences including several retired people with excellent interpersonal and organisational skills; a number of younger people from academic backgrounds; and several others in full-time employment.
The volunteers are available at different times increasing the service provision with a daytime and an evening service. Janice believes that the team of volunteers are so enthusiastic and committed because they each have a strong personal motivation for volunteering, as well as an emotional commitment to Macmillan.
As a result, they are very reliable and dedicated. Her top tip for success is to be clear on the commitment required.
‘You will have invested a lot of time and effort in their recruitment and training so make sure they are committed and not likely to leave after a few weeks. We request that volunteers help for a minimum of two hours per week for one year.’
Be clear about the role
Make sure the role description includes what they are expected to do and what they are not expected to do. This avoids any confusion once they are in the role.
Recognise your volunteers
We all like to be encouraged and recognised for our work and volunteers are no different. We have nominated our volunteers for Scottish Health Awards, Community Champion Awards, UK Honours, and of course the Macmillan Volunteer Awards.
Make sure the volunteer gets something out of it
Provide regular support for your volunteers through one-to-ones and ongoing training. For example, at the Macmillan Cancer Information and Support Service (CISS) in Glasgow, some of the volunteers are going through the COSCA Counselling Skills course.
Allow enough time for recruitment and training
We get approached by many people wanting to volunteer with Macmillan, but be sure that the right person is in the right role. Not all people we talk to are willing to provide support face-to-face.
Continue reading this issue of Sharing good practice
Part one - Volunteers: adding value to services