[A]s part of Dementia Action Week (21-27 May) we are celebrating those who really make a difference to University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust (UHMBT) and its patients.
Royal Voluntary Service volunteer Louise Munro, 23, of Morecambe, provides companionship for elderly patients on five of the wards at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary (RLI) and helps to improve patients’ stay and experience of the hospital.
Louise, who suffers from a long-term condition herself and has been a patient the RLI for many years, was able to follow her dream and give something back when she started her voluntary role in January 2018. She has dedicated her time to hundreds of patients.
Louise, who is originally from Edinburgh, said: “Volunteering through the Royal Voluntary Service is helping me on the road to recovery. I knew I wanted to work in a caring role as soon as I was well enough. I want to thank my family for their support because without them I wouldn’t be able to do this.”
A big part of her week is spent engaging in reminiscence therapy with patients. She uses photographs, music and other memorabilia along with targeted conversation about the past, historic events, patients’ own families, jobs and childhood to spark meaningful memories. She carries out ‘move it or lose it’ chair based exercises, crosswords, dominoes and knitting with patients to encourage mobility and build people’s strength while they are in hospital.
She also helps at the Bay Dementia Hub and supports new volunteers to get started on the wards.
Louise added: “We use a variety of memorabilia with the patients and I hear so many fascinating tales – everything from war stories to people building medical schools in Africa. I also hear about lots of love stories which are really heart-warming. It’s so rewarding being able to enrich these people’s lives and put a smile on their faces.”
Barry Rigg, Engagement Manager, said: “Volunteers play an essential role in the way we provide care. Volunteers bring a wealth of experience, time, and commitment to our hospital services, our hospital RVS volunteers make a unique contribution to patients, carers, and staff at UHMB. We recognise that our volunteers are an essential resource that helps us achieve our vision while supporting and enhance the patient’s and public experience and perception of our hospitals.
“As an organisation we value the time, energy, and enthusiasm which our volunteers give to us and we recognise the important contribution our hospital RVS volunteers make to our organisation.”
Royal Voluntary Service is one of the largest voluntary service organisations in the country. We inspire and enable 25,000 volunteers to give their skills, experience, energy and time to help people in need in hospitals, at home and in the community.