Our Volunteer roles
We have more than 50 different volunteer roles – here’s an outline of the main categories where you can help support our staff and patients.
We pride ourselves on offering high-quality volunteering opportunities but it takes a lot of resources and significant investment from staff to offer these opportunities and recruit volunteers safely. Because of this, we ask volunteers to commit four hours of their time each week for a minimum of six months. We appreciate this is a significant commitment, so we try to ensure our opportunities are as flexible as possible.
Meet and Greet services
The hospital is a big place and can be difficult to navigate, even for those who work here every day. For this reason our Meet and Greet volunteers can be found around the site with their red volunteer waistcoats and big smiles, ready to help visitors validate their parking tickets and provide general directions and information. They can also help with various administrative tasks such as envelope filling and compiling patient information packs to support our clinical services. Being a Meet and Greet volunteer is a great way to meet new people, keep busy and get to know the hospital like the back of your hand.
Supporting our wards and ED
Our busy ward and Emergency Department (ED) environments are a hive of activity and can be stressful and anxiety-inducing areas for patients. It can be particularly confusing for elderly and frail patients, especially if they have some cognitive impairment or mobility difficulties. Volunteers are able to assist in so many ways, both improving the experience of our patients and helping to alleviate some of the strain on our busy ward staff teams. Volunteers can help with day room activities, stocking up ward cupboards, offering companionship to patients, making teas and coffees and can help at mealtimes.
Those looking for a volunteer role in a clinical environment that isn’t quite as noisy and busy as our wards may find our Outpatient clinics a great place to help. There are many clinics that run every day at NNUH including blood tests, cardiology, dermatology, eye clinics, oncology and respiratory clinics, and volunteers can help with a diverse range of tasks. They can often be found stocking up stationary supplies and equipment, directing visitors around the clinic or to other parts of the hospital, having a chat with and reassuring patients, basic filing and photocopying, and collecting scans, x-rays and post.
Our popular Bleep Buddies role is unlike any other volunteer role because it’s not allocated to a particular team – instead, they carry a hospital bleep and are available for all staff to call them for ad-hoc duties that they need assistance with. This role was created following a number of calls to Voluntary Services enquiring about the availability of volunteers to help at short notice. On any given session a Bleep Buddy could be helping with note running, wheelchair finding, escorting patients to clinics, distributing leaflets and posters, and basic administrative tasks such as filing, photocopying and envelope filling.
Administrative and clerical support
Behind the scenes of our busy hospital are many important volunteers supporting staff teams each day with a variety of basic, but often time-consuming, administrative tasks. There are administrative roles in many different teams across the Trust and volunteers can help with a range of tasks including filing documents, preparing patient information packs, photocopying, and envelope filling.
Every day a team of volunteers provide a complimentary reception service to the many patients, staff and visitors coming through our busy Out-patient departments. NNUH carries out nearly one million appointments, day case procedures and admissions annually, making our reception areas one of the busiest places in the hospital, and many of those coming through will benefit from the assistance of our volunteers. On any given session a Reception Volunteer may help with a range of visitor enquiries, directions to bus or taxi services, validating parking tickets and directions to site facilities.
We are always looking for feedback from patients to better understand their experiences and to implement improvement throughout the whole of the organisation. Volunteers support this by conducting surveys with our patients, either in person or by telephone once the patient has been discharged. Volunteers are ideal for this task because they are independent, impartial and not linked to the patients’ care so the hope is that patients feel able to provide more honest feedback. Volunteers use iPads and visit up to six wards per session, spending several hours talking to our patients about their experience.
It can be daunting for patients to return home after a spell in hospital, particularly if they live alone or are elderly. Settle-in Service volunteers help make this transition easier by settling patients back in at home on their day of discharge. This might include doing a shop for a few essential bits of food, preparing a light meal, ensuring the heating and hot water is working, unpacking clothes, checking for possible health hazards and even arranging a follow-up call. Volunteers are community based and help on an ad hoc basis (dependant on referrals coming in for patients in the volunteers’ local area).
Based in the Aylsham Discharge Suite or out in the community, our volunteer drivers are all about getting patients home stress-free. Volunteers meet patients in the Aylsham Discharge Suite, chat with them while they wait for medication, and reassure them that they will be home soon. They will then load up their belongings and ensure the patient is safely settled in the vehicle before driving them home. Each vehicle is equipped with a fuel card, mobile phone, breakdown kit and cleaning kit and each journey is logged in and out so we can ensure the driver and patient feels safe and confident.
The role of the Butterfly Volunteer is to provide compassionate support to patients (and their loved ones) who have been recognised as being in their last days or hours of life. A Butterfly Volunteer session may include sitting with the patient and providing companionship, offering gentle hand massage and supporting patients’ families. At the beginning of the session, the volunteer is given a list of patients to visit who have been identified as possibly benefiting from your company. This is a particularly challenging role and volunteers are provided with bespoke training and support from a dedicated member of staff.
There are other volunteering opportunities too, with our partner teams and organisations. These include roles with external charities such Royal Voluntary Service, Pets as Therapy and Age UK Norfolk, other groups such as Hospital Radio Norwich or with our Chaplaincy team.