Hospital volunteers dance to support
Dancing is one way St John volunteers are helping people in trying circumstances.
Kate Hargraves and Anam Bashir are the ‘‘Tuesday gals’’, volunteering with St Johns Friends of the Emergency Department every Tuesday afternoon.
‘‘We danced with two children in the waiting room when they came in with their mother following a domestic violence event - it lifted them up,’’ Bashir said.
‘‘Sometimes it is these small things that really help people in big ways who find themselves in the Emergency Department,’’ said Bashir.
Hargraves said patients and their families sometimes have to wait a long time, and volunteers help relieve stress in many different ways depending on the individual’s needs.
‘‘Anybody who finds themselves here did not plan to be here - so did not get time to prepare to come - there is a real element of surprise and this makes it much harder for these patients,’’ Hargraves said.
‘‘Our role is to nurture not counsel.’’
The volunteers provide patients with comfort, support, magazines and meals, cups of tea. They help with easing anxiety, charging mobile phones and keeping the visitor kitchens clean. They even dance as required.
The St John Friends of the Emergency Department (FEDs) programme launched as a pilot scheme at Auckland Hospital Emergency Department in 2001, with seven volunteers doing one shift a day.
Now there are 45 volunteers, with the aim to fill three four hour shifts every day.
‘‘Ideally we would have three volunteers on every shift, but with the current number of volunteers, this is often not possible with people’s busy lives,’’ Hargraves said.
Hargraves, a FED of two years, said she was a patient in the hospital and a friend was working there as a nurse and told her about FEDs. ‘‘To do this is a real priority for me,’’ she said.
Recently emigrated from India, Bashir found she had time on her hands and decided this would be a good way to get involved and be part of the community here.
Volunteers undergo police checks and comprehensive training, which includes two observer shifts, followed by four weeks of training with experienced FEDs before starting shifts on their own.
Anam Bashir and Kate Hargraves say making a difference to people in real need is very important to them.