Student volunteers form first dementia support group in hospital

Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trusts Voluntary and Community Development Team have launched their first group of Connect with Dementia Volunteers on Viking Ward at Crawley Hospital and at Zachary Merton Hospital in Rustington

Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trusts Voluntary and Community Development Team have launched their first group of Connect with Dementia Volunteers on Viking Ward at Crawley Hospital and at Zachary Merton Hospital in Rustington

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Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust’s (SCFT) Voluntary and Community Development Team has launched their first group of Connect with Dementia Volunteers on Viking Ward at Crawley Hospital.

Up to 40 per cent of all patients on SCFT inpatient wards may live with dementia. Volunteers are ideally placed to try and support them.

By offering their time to help people get involved in social activities, chat and most importantly, provide company, it can reduce some of the boredom that can be experienced in hospital and improves patient experience.

SCFT dementia lead Lucy Frost, occupational therapy lead Lucy Hague, Sue Hart ward manager at Viking Ward and Jane Sinclair and Senior Sister at Zachary Merton Hospital in Rustington with the Volunteer Team have trained 20 young students about communicating with people who have dementia.

It includes reminiscence technology training, which is invaluable for patients and enables them to interactive with games, music, films, quizzes and puzzles. It has already proved popular with patients, staff and volunteers. 

Ben and Ellis are two of the Connect with Dementia Volunteers. Ben said: “It’s great to be able to help people with degenerative illnesses and to make a difference to their lives. It’s also helping to equip me with skills that I need for my future career.”

Ellis added: “I’m looking forward to giving something back to the community and to improving the quality of older people’s lives. The training I received was both useful and interesting and I would encourage other young people to commit to this type of volunteering to contribute towards making a positive impact to our community.”

The team has also joined the #iWill Campaign which hopes will raise awareness of dementia among young people. See bit.ly/2i0A7yc for more.

Brenda Henson and Nicky Silk, Volunteer Managers covering West Sussex said: “We are very positive about the impact this youth social action brings, not only by offering additional support and time to patients but it also gives young people increased understanding of the healthcare system, increased community involvement, development of their skills and an increased sense of wellbeing.”

Further information about the SCFT Volunteer’s Team is available online: www.sussexcommunity.nhs.uk/volunteering