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P-254  Seventeen and super keen; young people volunteering on an in-patient unit
  1. Clair Sadler and
  2. Zoe Byrne
  1. Princess Alice Hospice, Esher, UK


In September 2015, we introduced an innovative new volunteering programme aimed at 17-year-olds interested in a career in healthcare. The Ward Support Volunteers committed to a unique six-month programme involving supporting healthcare assistants on our large in-patient unit and working towards the Care Certificate qualification.

The objectives were to:

  • create a sustainable programme that increased resource on the in-patient unit

  • provide a meaningful opportunity for young people interested in healthcare

  • diversify the volunteer workforce.

The role description included talking with patients and relatives, assisting with meals and drinks and replenishing stock. All local schools and colleges were contacted to publicise the opportunity and 22 young people were interviewed.

The Education team delivered a bespoke experiential induction day for the 14 selected volunteers that explored communication skills as well as practical training like hand massage.

We also developed a workbook to accredit the programme under the new Care Certificate which included practical activities and online learning. Experienced volunteers acted as ‘Buddies’, regularly meeting with the young volunteers to support them.

Thirteen young people completed the programme and received the Care Certificate. The main gain for the volunteers, however, was an increase in their confidence and ability to communicate.

“I don’t think I would have got medicine offers without it but, more importantly, it has made me a much more confident and compassionate person.” Robyn, 17

“The ward support volunteers have been a fantastic addition to the ward. They inject some much needed energy when they arrive at 4.30pm and to have enthusiastic, inquisitive young people on the ward has benefited the staff as well as the patients and visitors.” Senior Staff Nurse

The programme continues with the second cohort also being trained in basic manual handling to make their role even more valuable to the ward.

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