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To dislike my voluntary job?

(37 Posts)
FedUpAtCrimbo Thu 09-Dec-10 11:43:10

I'm name-changed because I don't want to be outed. If you know me, please pretend you don't!
Ok so basically I have been working voluntarily in a hospice for around 3 months whilst at college, preparing for uni.
The whole idea was to get some experience to a) confirm that care was what I wanted to do and b) get a reference from someone in a care setting and c) show uni that I have experience and deserve an interview!
So I work four hours on a saturday morning. All they could give me. My major issue is that there is barely anything for me to do. I start at 9am and am pretty busy from 9-10 but after that, there is NOTHING for me to do. All the qualifieds bugger off into the staffroom and sit eating biscuits, drinking tea and slagging off members of staff that arn't there and I'm just left standing there like an idiot. Half the time I end up clearing up after the staff when they leave their mugs and crumbs etc everywhere.
A few staff members have made it obvious that they don't like volunteers, one of them is horrible, speaks to me like shit and blanks me (like offers everyone in the room a cup of coffee and purposely doesn't ask me) and I'm just really starting to dread going.

I don't want to quit because it will look like I tried care work and didn't get on with it but its not the work, its just that environment where you're stuck looking like a spare part for 3-4 hours knowing full well that the "real" staff would prefer it if you wern't there!


llareggub Thu 09-Dec-10 11:45:57

It is difficult to find meaningful work for volunteers to do, unless you are lucky to find an organisation that has a good volunteer policy or someone with an interest in developing you.

Stick it out, it won't be for long!

madonnawhore Thu 09-Dec-10 11:45:59

No YANBU to hate it, it sounds horrible. But from what I've heard about working in care homes/hospices (best friend is a nurse and started her career in them), a lot of them are like that.

It's good that you're getting an insight into what you might be getting in to now. I don't think that kind of nasty atmosphere is unique to your workplace unfortunately.

prettymuchapixiegirl Thu 09-Dec-10 11:47:04

Oh no, how horrible, I don't blame you for not liking it there, FedUp. I would leave TBH. I'm not sure which uni course you're applying for but I'm presuming it's Nursing or something similar? In which case, it should be very possible to get a paid job in a care home, as often they are crying out for staff.

So not only would you get paid, you would actually get some proper care experience for your CV, rather than being made to stand round like a twat.

kreecherlivesupstairs Thu 09-Dec-10 11:47:49

YANBU. I have worked in a hospice (I assume you mean a palliative care setting) and, most of the time there isn't anything to do.
TBHm I am surprised they took you on, the hospice I worked in had a very small staff and used the volunteers for fund raising. Cleaning was done by two people and catering was mainly, heat up stuff donated by M+S.
Can you try for another placement? Maybe sign up with an agency otherwise and do some domestic care assisting?

ruddynorah Thu 09-Dec-10 11:50:54

is there no one there you can talk to about some kind of plan of what you could be doing? is there a manager or volunteer coordinator? are there patients you could be 'visiting'?

kathyb1 Thu 09-Dec-10 11:51:36

you could try discussing it with the manager.
i would write a short list of tasks you would like to carry out, which you feel would be of benefit to you - it is entirely possible they just don't know what to give you & are worried about overburdening you or frightening you off.
it would at least be a positve way of opening discussions, rather than just sounding like a whinge.
you could lie & say it has been suggested by your new uni tutor.

failing that, start looking round for something better

some places are not good to work in - 1st lesson you've learnt before uni!
there are a lot of crap jobs & even crapper cooworkers out there.

pottonista Thu 09-Dec-10 11:51:40

They don't sound very nice. You have a few options:

1) Stop volunteering there and look for another placement
2) Confront them with their unfriendly behaviour
3) Ask for more to do
4) Suck it up in the interests of your future career, and remember the reasons you're hating it are to do with unfriendly staff, not care work as such

I'd go with 3) and 4), and possibly a bit of 2) if you feel brave enough. Some bits of work are often not very enjoyable, but stick it out and you'll get to where you want in the end.

FedUpAtCrimbo Thu 09-Dec-10 11:52:24

It's not just that but the staff also slag off the patients and I find it quite upsetting, especially as they're so ill.

When I have something to do, I love it. Even the messy jobs, I don't mind. It's the standing around looking stupid that I hate. I have heard one staff member slagging me off to another volunteer for something I didn't do and then heard the same staff member slagging off another volunteer for something I know full well she didn't do.

I have no experience so it's quite difficult for me to get a paid job tbh. I will keep looking though. It's got to the point now where I actually dread the weekends and I know thats a bit daft since it's only 4 hours but it seems SO MUCH longer when I'm there.

Thing is, without this placement I have no work reference for uni sad

festivefriedawhingesagain Thu 09-Dec-10 11:52:50

I worked in a nursing home as a care assistant, and as a home help befgore training as a nurse. The nursing home job was really valauble because I got to see what the nurse's role really is, and it made me want to do it all the more.

It was good to be able to talk about doing the hands on stuff when I was interviewed too, as washing someone and getting them dressed is quite odd when you have never done it beforesmile

What course are you applying for?

ruddynorah Thu 09-Dec-10 11:53:47

what do the other volunteers think? can you all get together at all? who do you report to?

festivefriedawhingesagain Thu 09-Dec-10 11:55:43

And can you just go and chat with the patients? Offer to tidy up their things, have a natter, just be a bit of company for them.

They like being able to just chat, not always about their illness, as they were people with often fascinating lives before they had a condition, IYKWIM.

Asking about relatives is always a winnerwink Everyone has got some , even if they don't get on/are abroad/are dead.

FedUpAtCrimbo Thu 09-Dec-10 11:56:33

The volunteer I was working with has left. She told me she couldn't be doing with wasting for hours just stood like a statue when she could be at home doing her assignments.
One volunteer started a few weeks ago and never came back after her first shift.

So I know it's not just me! grin

I'm even wondering if they'll give me a decent reference since they seem to hate me so much.

I'm applying for the nursing degree. I've tried to get on the bank as a ca but they have nothing until february.

Kitta Thu 09-Dec-10 12:00:19

I'm sorry you found a hospice like that in my experience they tend to be lovely welcoming places.
Anyway 3 months will still look good on your CV, I would start to look for some other work, be it paid or not, I know our local hospital is crying out for Volunteers. You may not be doing hands on care, but you will get a feel for the place and get to know your way around (always a BIG bonus).

No offence to nursing homes, but unless it is a very good one you may end up picking up some very bad habits.

If they ask you in your interview why you left, you can say something like I had a lovely time there, but I want to experience different areas of nursing, therefore I got a job in nursing home, wanted to get the feel of working in a hospital etc.

As placements within student nursing are only about 3 months long anyway (some shorter, some longer) it won't seem too short to the average Lecturer.

TBH considering the amount we used to get applying who’s only experience was watching Holby and Casualty the fact that you’ve bothered to get out and get some experience will look good

ruddynorah Thu 09-Dec-10 12:00:32

How are these patients? My mum was in a hospice for quite a long time before she died. Are you allowed to just take yourself off and see the patients? i mean where is it you're standing iyswim? even if you just read a book to a patient, brushed their hair, or looked at photos with them, better than just standing there surely. do you have to await instruction?

festivefriedawhingesagain Thu 09-Dec-10 12:01:11

Volunteer with age UK?


ruddynorah Thu 09-Dec-10 12:01:33

yes the hospice my mum was in was lovely.

kreecherlivesupstairs Thu 09-Dec-10 12:02:44

Fedup, don't wait for the hospital bank, go and apply for some paid jobs as a care assistant.
From what I remember about the year I worked in the hospice, most people have visitors either all day long or day and night. Those who came into the hospice had a prognosis of two weeks of life left and many didn't have the energy to talk.
do yourself a favour and get out of there.

OhYouSnowySnowyKitten Thu 09-Dec-10 12:04:40

Can you see things that need improving? (apart from the staff of course) If so perhaps you could draw up an action plan of how you are going to go about improving the place (even if its stuff like decorating or organising supplies) then go to the manager with a costed plan of what you would like to do and how you are going to do it.

kathyb1 Thu 09-Dec-10 12:05:16

you can at least take from this the firm conviction that you will never be such as git to volunteer helpers - it will make you a much better coworker/manager when it's your turn.
good lesson to learn early.

agedknees Thu 09-Dec-10 12:11:56

You can volunteer at your local hospital. We had 2 lovely young ladies, one pre nursing course, one pre medical course.

We got on really well with them on our ward, although we probably nagged them a bit ie. have you got your warm coat on, it's a bit chilly out there.

Get yourself out of there. Volunteering should be fun. There is an old adage, nurses eat their young. Sadly, it seems to be happening at the place you are volunteering at. Not all places are like that.

senua Thu 09-Dec-10 12:16:22

Get a friend to come with you so you have someone to talk to.
Forget the staff, keep busy with the patients.
Tell your manager that you might have something else coming up and can she write the reference now (for you to have and to keep, not some promise of a future reference). Although, in theory, want you want is experience what you really need, in practice, is that magic piece of paper. It is important to get it now because staff might have moved on by the time you ask in a few months from now.
It is possible to jump ship. Uni want to know about your experiences (which you can hype up) but will not ask precise dates. Get some better different experiences.

Please remember this experience in twenty years' time when you are the manager and have some teenager working for you ...

senua Thu 09-Dec-10 12:21:04

hmm, not sure about kitten's advice. I wouldn't appreciate some know-it-all whippersnapper telling me that they can run my department better than I can.

monkeyflippers Thu 09-Dec-10 12:25:04

If the staff are slagging off the patients as well then I would look for someone to report them to. It's not professional and those poor people shouldn't be treated like that in their last few weeks or days of life.

kathyb1 Thu 09-Dec-10 12:25:56

i agree with senus re: kitten's well-meant advice

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