The Voluntary Services Department at NNUH have recently secured £75,000 in funding from Helpforce (a non-profit organisation working to increase volunteering in healthcare) to assist with the recruitment of a dedicated coordinator to manage the hospital’s ‘Settle in Service’. It is hoped that the Settle in Service will ultimately combine with the Volunteer Department’s new Volunteer Drivers scheme, which is currently undergoing a pilot period. 

The NNUH Settle in Service sees volunteers from local areas meet discharged patients at their homes to help ease them back into their surroundings. This typically involves; ensuring the heating is on, making a cup of tea, and making sure the patient has food available in the house. They can also offer a risk assessment of the home, as well as simply offering some companionship, alleviating any fears the patient may have on returning to their home. This is a great opportunity to support our patients and signpost any further support needed to help combat social isolation and loneliness.

The new Volunteer Drivers scheme is a service which allows discharged patients to be taken home anywhere within the Norfolk/Waveney area free of charge. Currently the service operates with three vehicles (provided by SERCO), two of which are wheelchair accessible, and is available to patients discharged via the Aylsham Discharge Suite so long as they’re self-transferring and relatively mobile.

If the pilot period is successful the Volunteer Drivers scheme will run alongside the existing non-emergency ambulance transfer service. This will provide a hassle free transport option for patients who perhaps don’t need the full medical capabilities of an ambulance team; but are struggling to transport themselves due to illness, time or financial constraints or are simply facing a long wait for taxis, public transport or friends/relatives etc.

Currently the three vehicles are staffed by a team of four volunteers, all of whom have passed a sight test, and had their driving skills assessed by a ROSPA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents) approved driving instructor. Due to the dedication of the current volunteers, there is one driver available Monday to Friday; however thanks to ongoing recruitment and a good deal of interest in the scheme it is hoped there will soon be three drivers available every day. 

Once both the Drivers service and the Settle-in volunteers are fully operational the Voluntary Services department hope that the two will dovetail to create a seamless and stress free ‘going home’ experience for patients discharged from NNUH. When asked about the potential of the twin services Community and Settle-in Voluntary Services Coordinator Charlotte Kippin said; “With our new volunteer drivers and the great work our settle in volunteers are already doing, I think we now have the capability to really improve what is already a very good service, and provide a pleasant and easy experience for patients leaving our hospital.” 

The Voluntary Services Department will be holding an awareness day at NNUH on Thursday 16 May for anyone interested in becoming a volunteer involved with any of the services mentioned above.

For more information please contact Charlotte Kippin via email at: or by telephone on: 01603 286072.