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Meet Jennie and Chris
How long have you been volunteering on the ward?
Jennie: I have been at Forest Holme for a year now.
Chris: I have been at Forest Holme since February 2023.
Why did you choose to volunteer at Forest Holme on the ward?
Chris: Forest Holme for me, is a positive chance to repay the NHS for all the care, help and support my family and I have received over the years, still ongoing.
Jennie: In November 2013, I lost my dad to pancreatic cancer after a six-month short battle. At the time my whole world had fallen apart. I was only 30 and I could never imagine a life without my dad, my hero. After losing my dad, I attended grief counselling at Forest Holme Hospice for five months to help with the grief and the anger I felt. After both my boys were at school, I wanted to give something back and do something to help the hospice after losing my dad and other friends there too. I love being in the hospice, as strange as that might sound! I love being there to talk to people and help the nurses. If I can put a smile on someone’s face for 10 minutes of that day, then I know I am doing a good job.
What kind of things do you do whilst you are here?
Jennie: My morning consists of making breakfast and hot drinks for the patients that can eat or drink. Refreshments for any visitors, including family. I also help the nurses by washing up, loading the dishwasher, changing the flowers or giving them fresh water. I love being able to sit and chat to people, listen to their stories and be there for the family when their world is falling apart. The patients have called me the lady with the sparkly eyes.
Chris: I spend my time assisting patients and relatives with things including lunches and liquid refreshments. The staff and patients’ kitchens need to be constantly clean and tidy, which also takes time. I also ensure that I give strong support to all the nursing staff, by looking after them in the same way.
Is there a particular moment or memory that stands out for you?
Chris: I have many memories which are still forming. The stoical way in which the patients address their fate and that of the relatives. The dedication, constant attention, and compassion of the staff.
Jennie: There was one moment when I was sat with the wife in a room of a gentleman who was very unwell. Whilst I was in the room, the gentleman changed, and his breathing became very shallow. I went and called the ward sister Sarah to come into the room and held his wife’s hand while he sadly passed away. I sat with her after for a little while to comfort as much as I could. I feel a great privilege of being there to support people.
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