Bedside befrienders boost patients’ day
05 March 2013
With their cheerful smiles, these volunteer befrienders are just the tonic for hospital patients who may not have friends or family coming in to visit.
Barbara Cronin, Millie Bealing and Chris Stevens (pictured left
to right) come into Southend University Hospital for two hours
every week for a bedside chat with patients who have dementia,
memory loss and other similar conditions.
Consultant physician Dr Ioannis Liakas, the hospital's dementia
lead, said: "The days can seem very long for patients who don't
have anyone coming in at visiting time. Our volunteer befrienders
bring stimulation and interaction which really help brighten up
Chris, who has previously worked as a senior carer for people
with dementia in Kent, said: "Ward staff are so busy, and we can
help by sitting down for some one-to-one time with patients. The
most important thing is to empathise and have an affinity with
"I have been volunteering as a befriender for four months and do
find it very worthwhile. I bring in old postcards as 'prompters' to
chat about both the past and present."
The hospital is keen to recruit more volunteer befrienders who
feel they have what it takes to cheer up frail, elderly or lonely
patients with known dementia or memory problems.
Anyone who would like to give up a couple of hours a week can
find out more about what is involved by calling Christine Miller or
Jane O'Connell in the hospital's voluntary services department on
01702 435555 ext 6135.
With pic: Volunteer befrienders Barbara Cronin, Millie Bealing
and Chris Stevens.