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Bedside befrienders boost patients’ day

05 March 2013

Health Care

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 their afternoon."

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 people.

"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.