Family’s selfless work for hospice
Vital support from mother and daughters
HELPING the hospice is a real family affair for one mother and her two daughters.
The Pilgrims Hospices, which this year celebrate a quarter of a century of caring, rely heavily on dedicated volunteers to keep the service going.
Few do more than the Ralph family led by Karen, 49, from Hornash Lane, Shadoxhurst, who is volunteer co-ordinator for the Ashford hospice.
She has been involved for six years, initially on the wards helping with the tea and coffee trolley rounds for patients and making sure they are comfortable and up to seeing their visitors.
She also served the lunches and dinners, and carried out general administration duties to minimise the workloads of staff.
When the Ashford centre of excellence first opened she had gone along to see if she could help.
She said: “I found it was remarkable how much people laugh on the ward and was not at all a dismal and gloomy place. It is actually rather upbeat.”
After three years Karen took on more responsibility and began helping with the volunteers’ interviews and inductions. Now she co-ordinates volunteer drivers and gardeners, liaising between them and the administrator, Jean Dorman.
When a volunteer is unable to work their shift, it is her job to find cover, sometimes undertaking the work herself.
Karen also keeps the database updated, gives support to the volunteers, organises the Christmas lunch and the summer garden party, and still helps out on the ward doing the trolley rounds every Friday.
She said: “The hospice is a wonderful service. Patients come in racked with pain, so much so that you can see it in their faces.
“The nurses manage their pain control so effectively that often the patient leaves two days later a different person. It is remarkable.”
She is not the only family member giving up their time to help. Her daughters Alex and Stephanie are also volunteers. Stephanie, 25 who lives in Ashford with her husband has also been helping for six years.
Alex, who also lives in Shadoxhurst, has only just officially started voluntary work as a receptionist since she became 18, but has always helped her mother with stalls at summer fetes.
She said: “Awareness of the hospice is low among young people and I would urge them to volunteer as it is so worthwhile.”
They always need more helpers of all ages and anyone with spare time is asked to call Jean Dorman on 01233 504101.
Pilgrims Hospice volunteer co-ordinator Karen Ralph with daughters Stephanie, left, and Alex