Since the Covid-19 Pandemic emerged and left us with no choice but to restrict visiting across our Hospital sites, our hard working staff have done everything in their power to keep patients connected with their loved ones during such difficult times of isolation.
Inevitably, not being able to receive visits from their loved ones has left many patients feeling isolated. As a way of further supporting these patients, students from the School of Care at Coleg Gwent have been recruited as Ffrind i Mi volunteers to support patients on some of our Hospital wards.
Prior to the COVID-19 Pandemic, Aneurin Bevan University Health Board had worked collaboratively with Coleg Gwent to offer Health and Social Care students the opportunity to undertake a placement within our hospitals.
The Pandemic led to the postponement of these placements, which significantly impacted on health and social care students’ ability to gain valuable practical care experience.
In order to begin volunteering with us, students were part of a full volunteer recruitment process and have been trained in infection control (including the appropriate use of PPE), confidentiality, dignity and respect. In addition to this, they have been trained in empowering patients to use digital technology to connect with their family and friends. Although this is a new initiative, we have already seen the significant benefits that students can provide in supporting patients to connect with their families.
In return, students gain valuable practical experience, and are able to achieve competencies in their studies, such as communication, empathy, listening skills, the ethics of person-centred care, and digital inclusion.
As the future health and social care workforce, the wealth of experience and skills being gained by these students will be a huge asset to them in their careers.
Allison Werner, Employer Engagement Advisor for Care & Community Studies at Coleg Gwent said:
"It has been great working with the Person-Centred Care team in ABUHB to pull together this student volunteer programme in such challenging times. This has given our students an opportunity to enhance their learning and an insight into potential future careers within the Health Board."
Harriett Saunders, Ffrind i Mi Volunteer and Health and Social Care Student at Coleg Gwent, said:
“Since starting volunteering, the Person Centred Care Team have been absolutely amazing and so welcoming. They make sure that I am comfortable with how much I interact with patients and ensure that I am not left alone with a patient until I am confident in doing so. The experience has already allowed me to gain valuable insight into firstly, a hospital setting, but also how patients are struggling with current circumstances and hopefully how volunteers like myself can impact a patient’s day. It’s a wonderful experience and I’m enjoying every minute of it.”
Elena Hall, Ffrind i Mi Volunteer and Health and Social Care Student, Coleg Gwent, said:
"At 17, it’s really hard to find an opportunity where I can give back to the community, but when I saw the Volunteering position with the Person Centred Care Team, I knew it interested me. This position is really rewarding, and being part of it has been really eye opening! I’ve felt comfortable throughout the whole process and look forward to every shift knowing it’s making a difference!“
If you would like more information about becoming a Ffrind i Mi volunteer, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org