January 18, 2022

Volunteers staying connected

Our amazing volunteers play an important role at Northern Health.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, our volunteers would roam the hospital halls with a friendly smile and cheer, ready to assist.

But the hospital halls have been noticeably quiet, with onsite volunteer activity scaled back due to the COVID Peak status of our health service.

Our volunteer program during the pandemic evolved from a focus on volunteers providing support to the health service, to one where the health service provided ongoing support to our volunteers, to help them stay connected to Northern Health while at home.

The How-R-U telephone social support program – which offers participants weekly social support via a telephone call provided by a Northern Health volunteer –┬áis one of the activities the team activated. This program has now been embedded into the Volunteer Services Team and has been a wonderful addition for our volunteers who can continue to support patients from their own home.

To assist in the health service’s COVID response, the Volunteers Services Team facilitated the preparation of specimen collection bags for our COVID testing clinics, with more than 67,300 bags collected to date. As COVID-19 looks to be with us for some time, this will most likely remain a regular task our volunteers can assist with.

The team continued to promote the many activities and achievements of volunteers through online stories published on the Intranet. These stories helped to remind staff that although volunteers weren’t visible onsite, they were still very much active behind the scenes.

Weekly newsletters helped our volunteers retain a sense of connection to Northern Health. Volunteers were kept up to date about ongoing changes, new programs and services. For volunteers, newsletters provided a platform to share the great work and contributions other volunteers were still doing, something the volunteers truly appreciate.

Our volunteers also regularly stayed in touch with one another – regular phone calls were made, Zoom chats were organised and birthday cards were sent to each other. Volunteers also facilitated the pick-up of hand-made items made by our community of volunteer knitters. Some of these items were for patients and some were made to support the fundraising for Northern Health Foundation, with volunteer fundraising enabling the purchase of equipment for Northern Health.

Henni Wade, Manager Volunteer Services, said it was great the Volunteer team felt they could still make a difference and help out where they could.

“It’s wonderful to have the continued support of our Northern Health Volunteers. Not only is their support helping the hospital, but it is also helping them to stay well while at home,” she said.

“They are so keen to return to their onsite volunteering as they are missing interactions with staff, patients and other volunteers.”

“If there is any task you think might be suitable for the volunteers to do from the safety of their homes, please contact the Volunteer Services Team on volunteer@nh.org.au.”