New volunteer program launched to enhance care in Emergency Departments

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Posted Jun 4th, 2012 in News

Specially trained volunteers are providing extra care and support to patients and loved ones in the Niagara Health System’s three Emergency Departments as a part of a pilot project aimed at improving the overall patient experience.

The volunteers will work at the three EDs (St. Catharines General, Greater Niagara General and Welland sites), helping our doctors, nurses and staff to provide the best possible patient and family experience.

“A visit to the Emergency Department is stressful for both the patient and their loved ones due to the nature of the visit itself,” says Derek McNally, Vice President, Patient Services. “People are often times in pain and scared while waiting. The volunteers will play an invaluable role in our EDs, providing comfort, support and reassurance. This program is a step in the right direction as we continually work to improve our ED services.”

Forty five volunteers from across the region have undergone training in topics such as effective communication; patient-centred care; confidentiality; infection prevention and control; and emergency codes. The volunteers will su

NIAGARA, ON: Specially trained volunteers are providing extra care and support to patients and loved ones in the Niagara Health System’s three Emergency Departments as a part of a pilot project aimed at improving the overall patient experience.

The volunteers will work at the three EDs (St. Catharines General, Greater Niagara General and Welland sites), helping our doctors, nurses and staff to provide the best possible patient and family experience.

“A visit to the Emergency Department is stressful for both the patient and their loved ones due to the nature of the visit itself,” says Derek McNally, Vice President, Patient Services. “People are often times in pain and scared while waiting. The volunteers will play an invaluable role in our EDs, providing comfort, support and reassurance. This program is a step in the right direction as we continually work to improve our ED services.”

Forty five volunteers from across the region have undergone training in topics such as effective communication; patient-centred care; confidentiality; infection prevention and control; and emergency codes. The volunteers will support the health care team in variety of ways including facilitating communication between patients and nurses, relaying requests for nourishment or pain management, handing out blankets, helping to answer questions about directions and wait times, and providing comfort and support.

University student Saumik Biswas volunteers in the ED at the St. Catharines General Site and sees his role as being there for patients who feel isolated and anxious in an unfamiliar environment. “I remember last Christmas when a gentleman was in the waiting room and had no access to a phone,” says Saumik. “He knew his family would be worried and wondering where he was; this was causing him extra stress and making his condition worse. I connected him with his family and they were overjoyed. They each gave me a big hug when they arrived at the ED.”

Throughout the pilot, volunteers will collect formal and informal feedback from patients and families that will be used to help NHS further improve patient care services in its EDs.

The teams of ED volunteers are made up of a variety of individuals with diverse backgrounds; those that are working or retired (some from healthcare) as well as youth in postsecondary programs preparing for careers in the field.

Our volunteer information can be found here.

Support the health care team in variety of ways including facilitating communication between patients and nurses, relaying requests for nourishment or pain management, handing out blankets, helping to answer questions about directions and wait times, and providing comfort and support.

University student Saumik Biswas volunteers in the ED at the St. Catharines General Site and sees his role as being there for patients who feel isolated and anxious in an unfamiliar environment. “I remember last Christmas when a gentleman was in the waiting room and had no access to a phone,” says Saumik. “He knew his family would be worried and wondering where he was; this was causing him extra stress and making his condition worse. I connected him with his family and they were overjoyed. They each gave me a big hug when they arrived at the ED.”

Throughout the pilot, volunteers will collect formal and informal feedback from patients and families that will be used to help NHS further improve patient care services in its EDs.

The teams of ED volunteers are made up of a variety of individuals with diverse backgrounds; those that are working or retired (some from healthcare) as well as youth in postsecondary programs preparing for careers in the field.

Our volunteer information can be found here.

Niagara Health System