Hos­pi­tal vol­un­teers dance to sup­port

Auckland City Harbour News - - OUT & ABOUT - MARY FITZGERALD

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.

MARY FITZGERALD/FAIRFAX NZ

Anam Bashir and Kate Har­graves say mak­ing a dif­fer­ence to peo­ple in real need is very im­por­tant to them.

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