It’s Volunteers’ Week 1-7 June, so Healthwatch Dorset is sending a huge ‘Thank You’ to the inspiring volunteers who help to make health and social care better for local people.
120 volunteers currently support the work of Healthwatch Dorset, making an important contribution to improving people’s experience of health and care in the county.
Volunteers help in a variety of ways, depending on their interests and the time they have available. They gather people’s experiences and views of health and social care, they compile research to inform special projects, they visit services to make sure they are providing the right care and support, and they promote the work of Healthwatch. Members of the Healthwatch Dorset Steering Group are also volunteers. Meet some volunteers below.
Louise Bate, Healthwatch Dorset Manager said: “We recognise the enormous value of our volunteers every single day. They help us reach out and connect with so many people and communities across the county, encouraging them to get involved and finding out what matters to them, so that we can build closer relationships between health and social care services and the communities they serve. I want to take this opportunity to say thank you to our volunteers and to highlight the significant role they play in promoting patient engagement to help improve the quality of care.”
Healthwatch Dorset Volunteer Officer, Holly Drinkwater, works closely with the volunteers, coordinating and supporting their work. She said: “Volunteers are at the heart of everything we do, they make such a difference. I want to say a huge thank you to all of our volunteers for their continued support, hard work and enthusiasm, they are inspiring.”
Healthwatch Dorset works with volunteers of all ages and backgrounds, supporting them with training and development and out of pocket expenses.
Young volunteers raise awareness of diabetes
Earlier in the year, Lucy Cribb, Healthwatch Dorset Engagement Officer, worked with three young volunteers who wanted to raise awareness of type 1 diabetes and what it is like to live with the condition. She helped two of the young volunteers make videos and the third wrote a blog – these were shown in assemblies at local schools.
Volunteer Rosey [pictured right], aged 14, said: “I enjoy volunteering as it gives me a chance to help people in need and try to make a difference to their lives.”
Watch the videos and read the blog: Go to our project page
Volunteers assess Dorset Hospitals
This year, 21 Healthwatch Dorset volunteers helped eight Dorset hospitals with their annual NHS Patient-Led Assessments of the Care Environment (PLACE), reporting on their strengths and areas for improvement. They were trained to use the national NHS assessment framework to look at non-clinical elements of hospital care which affect patient experience.
Volunteer Chris [pictured left], who took part in the assessments, said: “It is great to be involved, as helping to ensure a good environment really matters. The role is an important one, giving up some time to help patients is really rewarding and plays a small part in helping the NHS to improve.”
Ellie-May Tate (Young Volunteer of the Year, Dorset Volunteer Centre Awards)
Ellie has been a Healthwatch Dorset volunteer for a few years. She eagerly gives up her time to support events, helping to empower local people to make positive changes in their local health and care services. Ellie is also a fundraiser for Cancer Research UK at university, and she previously volunteered at a charity shop. She wants to work in healthcare in the future.
“I love volunteering as it allows me to interact with the public, share the charity’s message and it gives me a real sense of achievement. As a student, I’m unable to give money to charity, but I am always able to give my time.”
Robert Grant-Kensley (Volunteer of the Year, Dorset Volunteer Centre Awards)
Since retirement, Bob has been a valued volunteer at Healthwatch Dorset. He selflessly gives his time to help others, supporting a variety of activities. He takes an active role, helping to improve the way patients, the public, service users and carers can influence their own care and how services are planned and delivered.
“I was humbled to win a Volunteer of the Year Award in 2019 [pictured right] after being nominated by Healthwatch Dorset. I also won the ‘Room for Reward’ competition to be treated to a holiday in a lovely hotel as recognition for my dedication to volunteering.”