Background St Oswald’s provides a large and specialist Lymphoedema Service which has traditionally been predominantly clinic-based at their main hospice site. Due to the impact of COVID-19, the service had to quickly pivot to provide much more domiciliary based care - to adhere to new infection control measures and respond to shielding patients’ needs. To adhere to the practical nature of the care as well as safeguarding regulations, the domiciliary visits had to be carried out by two lymphoedema nurses and it became apparent that recruitment of additional volunteers would be extremely beneficial and allow more patients to benefit from care.
Aims To increase the number of volunteers recruited and inducted into their role to allow the lymphoedema service to maintain services during the pandemic.
Methods To respond to an increased need for domiciliary care, in April 2020 St Oswald’s Hospice begun recruitment by advertising the volunteer role on social media. Following recruitment, volunteers were inducted and trained. During this time, staff engagement sessions were carried out and a clinical Volunteering Steering Group was set up to review and evaluate the project.
Results Over 40 new volunteers recruited, with 20-30 currently volunteering in the service. Other benefits have included: meaningful collaboration between a lymphoedema service and volunteering department, funding sourced for a volunteer coordinator for lymphoedema service to continue to build on this success, and reaching new volunteer audiences as the role engaged a much younger cohort of volunteers than traditional volunteers.
Conclusion The rapid flexing of the service supported by the Volunteering Department allowed services to be maintained, patients continued to receive assessment and treatment at home, which many prefer. In addition an unseen benefit has been volunteer enjoyment and a reporting that the experience of volunteering has been beneficial in particular in seeking university and other employment placements.
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