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Meg visits WRVS dementia support scheme in Northern General Hospital

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Meg Munn MP recently visited the Women’s Royal Voluntary Service (WRVS) On-ward Volunteering Service at Northern General Hospital. Started in November 2011 this project was initially for one-year, but now it is being used as a trial for this type of work and if successful, will be rolled out across the country.

The service, which is jointly funded by WRVS and Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, sees WRVS volunteers working on an older person’s ward which has a significant number of patients with dementia. The volunteers work alongside Trust staff and spend time with the patients, keeping them mentally stimulated, encouraging them to eat and drink and arranging entertainment such as singing along with music.

Amongst the volunteers Meg met Helen France who is 25 years old and has been volunteering with WRVS for almost seven years. Helen began volunteering as soon as the service was launched and has enjoyed it ever since. She is undertaking a degree in art and brings art therapy activities to the patients on the ward.

The service is proving very attractive to potential volunteers with a number of younger people and students coming forward to offer their services. Feedback from the patients and their families has been positive and WRVS is working with the Trust to replicate the service in other wards at the hospital.

Meg said:

“The WRVS on-ward service provides vital support to people suffering from dementia and for their carers. Nursing staff often find themselves without the time and resources to sit with patients alongside their other duties, so this is a great new way to support older people in hospital.

It was interesting to learn first-hand about the results the pilot scheme has already achieved. I was also introduced to the empathy doll, which is heavy like a small baby and when given to patients with dementia generally helps to calm them down and gives them comfort.”

Associated Photograph :

Meg holding the empathy doll with volunteers: Robert Carter, Steve Scott, Margaret Lawrence, Sylvia McLenan, Carol Foster, Vicky McDonald-Bell, and Helen France.

Meg holding the empathy doll with volunteers: Robert Carter, Steve Scott, Margaret Lawrence, Sylvia McLenan, Carol Foster, Vicky McDonald-Bell, and Helen France.


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