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DD volunteering at hospital...

28 replies

SunshineDaisies79 · 29/07/2015 18:50

DD is interested in a career in mental health nursing and was advised by her schools careers advisor that voluntary work at our nearest hospital would be beneficial to her ucas application. She attended an induction where she was told what to expect and how to conduct herself while on the wards. She was told she would have to have to use her initiative but would be buddied with a nurse for her first 6 weeks of work. At the end of this induction the co-ordinator asked if anyone would be interested in being a dementia volunteer which would involve befriending and assisting these patients in specific which DD of course signed up for as it's exactly what she is interested in. She was also told she would recieve some extra training on her first day as she wanted to volunteer with these patients. She went away and researched the condition and how best to conduct herself around sufferers so she would be prepared.
Today was her first day and was told to report to the nurse in charge. First off no one was told she would be coming which left her feeling very awkward from the outset. She was given a quick five minute tour of the ward and was told to go find "the patient with the purple file" and wait for another nurse to come find her.
This nurse did not show up so she was left in the ward for over an hour until a care assistant asked her why she was there and offered her a cup of tea. After this she was told to leave and come back next week when hopefully there would be more for her to do.
I'm aware that hospitals are an EXTREMELY busy place and that she can't expect to have her hand held the entire time, but why recruit volunteers just to treat them like this? I'm in a right mind to tell her to email the co-ordinator to complain.. Or would that be OTT?
Ps sorry for long post Blush

OP posts:

Theycallmemellowjello · 29/07/2015 18:53

I think that if she's looking for a career in this area she'd do best not to burn any bridges - you never know who will turn up on an interview panel. Maybe she could email explaining the situation and asking if there's a best time for her to come?


Sirzy · 29/07/2015 18:53

These things happen. It's a pain but they happen.

If she is old enough to be volunteering in a hopsital she is old enough to complain herself if she feels the need to!


WorraLiberty · 29/07/2015 18:55

No, she should definitely report this to the co-ordinator.

If she feels awkward, maybe don't mention the word 'complain'. Just tell her the co-ordinator should really know about it.


bestguess23 · 29/07/2015 18:55

From 17 to 20 I was working as a healthcare assistant in a high security hospital in the summer holidays. It's a hugely pressured environment and not always safe. Things have improved a bit but people are very overstretched. You could complain but it might make things more difficult for your dd. Could she take more initiative and if she had been forgotten about remind someone she is there. She will have to be very forthright and willing to just muck in to get on in that environment. I appreciate it's always hard on the first day.


Gargamella · 29/07/2015 18:55

Sounds pretty poor. Has she thought about volunteering with a charity instead? They're generally better geared up to induct and make proper use of volunteers.


Hedgesinthewind · 29/07/2015 19:02

Volunteers do not come free in terms of human resource(time) in training mentoring supervising etc.So I thik you & she need to understand ths, in regard to the overstretched nature of areas of the NHS.

YABU to complain


YeOldeTrout · 29/07/2015 19:03

that's a shame but maybe a realistic introduction to the NHS.

Thanks for sharing her experience. DD is also interested in a medical career.


Pippidoeswhatshewants · 29/07/2015 19:06

She needs to be more pro active!
She could ask if she could shadow somebody for the time being, and she will probably find something to do through that.
Volunteers are an extra burden and should make their presence as useful as possible and not get in the way.


SunshineDaisies79 · 29/07/2015 19:12

Thanks for the replies guys. We both know and appreciate that training will cost money, it's just that she was told to expect some kind of training and mentoring for the first 6 weeks. I've told her to make herself known a bit more as she was afraid to bother any of the nurses or assistants today if she asked questions. Hopefully for next week she can mentally prepare herself for the experience.

OP posts:

YeOldeTrout · 29/07/2015 19:21

Maybe if she goes back to the coordinator she can get the name of a specific person to shadow?


Yarp · 29/07/2015 19:30

There was obviously a communication fail between the coordinator and the ward. It happens, and it would be OTT to complain at this stage. But yes, get back to the coordinator.


SrAssumpta · 29/07/2015 19:52

You would be very unreasonable to complain, but she wouldn't.


Maxheadroom · 29/07/2015 20:10

My DD has had almost the same experience this week. I hoped it was just bad luck but it seems not! She is doing work experience at a local hospital, attended an induction day last week and turned up on the ward all excited for her work experience but no-one was expecting her. She spent the day wandering the ward trying to find something to do. No one would let her shadow them and she came hope really upset and disheartened. Today has been slightly better but it is a real shame that lack of organisation means that these work experiences are not useful for the student or the hospital. It is now making her question her idea of being a nurse.


Caryam · 29/07/2015 20:16

Surely she can find something to do herself? Talking to a patient for example?


PumpkinPie2013 · 29/07/2015 20:23

It sounds like there has been a lack of communication between the co-ordinator and the ward. Unfortunately, these things do happen sometimes when people are so busy.

At least now she has been they will know she is coming next week so hopefully things should be better.

I would say just go next week and if no one comes to find her or it seems she has been forgotten then she should find a member of staff and say 'is there anything I can help you with ' and go from there.

My mum is a nurse and has sometimes had volunteers on her wards - she really appreciates their help but sometimes if things are really hectic she just doesn't have much time to spend with them (she feels awful about it but it's just the way it happens sometimes ).

I hope your daughter settles in and enjoys her volunteering - it will certainly look good on her UCAS Form.


ShowMeYourTARDIS · 29/07/2015 21:22

We rely on volunteers at my work. Sometimes we muck up scheduling traininings and such. We're human. It happens. We love our volunteers and really hate letting them down.


DonkeysDontRideBicycles · 29/07/2015 21:31

That's a pity OP - if she doesn't find a way to raise it with the co-ordinator there might even be confusion over whether she actually turned up. Hope it's better organised next time.


TheHouseOnBellSt · 29/07/2015 21:46

Oh look..this is not unusual. I had similar when I had work experience at a theatre. In the end (I was 15) I had to make myself a's good practice for using your initiative.


EggOnTheFloor · 29/07/2015 21:54

This is just how hospitals are ran. Some say its due to nurses being busy, others say inefficiency. I suppose it depends how much time you spend on wards.

Equally, it is hard to see her get downcast when she was obviously excited about the role. But let her take the lead as to how she handles it from here, as it will give her a good idea of how to conduct herself should she progress to nursing and generally taking responsibility. It is hard, but it sounds like you have a lovely daughter on your hands, whose is learning how to be an independent adult.

Advise her to make a complaint should it be as bad second time round.


Florriesma · 29/07/2015 22:02

Your dd shouldn't be complaining about the ward. They didn't know she was coming. I've had students landed on me and not known about them (communication failure) but at least you can plough on with them as they have had training relevant to their stage. YouR dd being a volunteer would need an awful lot of induction and training -which is fine if they know she is oncoming able to prepare and allocate someone to her. Impossible to do if not.

Your dd needs to contact the coordinator and tell them what happened and let them take the lead. I wouldn't complain yet. They might be on the interview panel. If they are good communication skills and ability to negotiate would put your dd in a favourable light.


shouldnthavesaid · 29/07/2015 22:11

We get volunteers at work - but for whatever reason, regulations mean they can do very, very little short of sitting chatting with the patients. I will never forget one young chap, I think he was still in his last year of school, who sat with a patient for 45 minutes talking with her. I ended up with a lump in my throat when I over heard him saying he wished she could be his grandma.

I would encourage her to sort of leap in if she can. It's hard but you have to just throw yourself in. People appreciate it more than someone following you or sitting waiting to be told what to do - try to find what needs to be done and go and do it, within reason.

Talk to the HCAs, we usually have a little more time to talk and do more basic tasks that volunteers can sometimes get involved in.

She could -

Offer patients magazines, books, DVDs, etc depending in what's available
Encourage patients to swap existing stuff above.

Help with hair drying and styling (we have a box of rollers, tongs etc for this purpose)

Help with putting on make up etc

Sort out the TV, radio.

Give out towels, extra blankets as necessary.

Talk to the patients - there are few things as valuable as someone who will sit and chat. If it's an elderly patient with dementia, gently encourage talking about their childhood. Some patients will come with photographs, have a look at them. Ask about school, grandchildren, pets, holidays. I couldn't have been more thankful to that young man that stopped to talk - that gesture of his was wonderful.

Get the board games out of the cupboard - find someone without a visitor, offer them a pack of cards and take it from there.

Offer to support relatives - many times I have ended up chatting with frightened or even bored children. I've even carried a baby around the ward so Mum could talk with her husband. Show kids where the toys are, get them a drink of juice.

Learn about specific routines and ward procedures - where does the dirty linen go? Can she take it to the disposal room to save the nurses time? Can she help unload stocks, tidy drugs cupboards?

Obviously she should steer clear of anything involving dressings, intimate care, medication, paperwork and signing documents. She should never offer to do anything involving moving and handling - even just supporting a patient with walking to the loo. She should also check the hospital policy on assisting with eating and drinking - we don't allow any volunteers to assist with either, as a rule, because they won't know of the patient's needs (puréed diet, etc). But she can certainly do a lot of very useful things!


shouldnthavesaid · 29/07/2015 22:13

Sorry, ignore my first sentence because I've contradicted it. I was thinking as I was writing, and realise my initial thoughts were wrong!


acquiescence · 29/07/2015 23:07

I'm a mental health nurse and work on a ward. She is doing really well to get experience, it will go a long way. As others have said, she needs to be proactive. As a volunteer she is unlikely to have a clear and defined role. She could sit and talk to patients, read with them, ask other nurses and support workers to shadow them. As a student nurse she will be in the same position but with a more rigid plan. As a student nurse I had numerous placements where I felt like a spare part and had to learn to make my own activities.

I can't see why you would want to complain to be honest, it would not help her or the ward. Wards are very busy places and the priority is going to always be the patients. I do agree that some more structure would be beneficial to her but really if she is old enough to be doing this sort of work she should be able to ask for guidance herself. All the best to her with her career in mental health, it's a tough job but I love it.


Corygal · 29/07/2015 23:20

Much as I sympathise, you will make your DD look useless if you complain. She's UCAS volunteering, not a patient on the ward herself, and needs to act like it.

Hanging round and getting mummy to complain won't butter the parsnips.

Brilliant suggestions about being proactive above - use them. That's her, not you. Well done her on getting the job, by the way.


comedycentral · 31/07/2015 00:19

Do not complain. It is day one of her volunteering. You don't know the full circumstances. Your DD is big enough to look after herself.

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