St John of God Bunbury Hospital looking for compassionate volunteers

Compassionate volunteers wanted: St John of God Bunbury Hospital's Kerry Smith, Renae Hartmann and Ann Silver. Photo: Emily Sharp.
Compassionate volunteers wanted: St John of God Bunbury Hospital's Kerry Smith, Renae Hartmann and Ann Silver. Photo: Emily Sharp.

St John of God Bunbury Hospital is launching its Companion Volunteer program at the end of February in a bid to make patients suffering with dementia feel more at ease. 

The initiative will see specially trained volunteers spend time with elderly patients providing support and companionship. 

Volunteer coordinator Renae Hartmann said the program would be great for people who were wanting to connect and were happy to sit and give their time. 

“One five-hour shift per week is ideal, we want to build up the volunteers training and provide additional support, so it’s going to be a gradual process,” she said. 

Nurse Unit Manager Kerry Smith said hospitals could be frightening places to everyone but especially for those with dementia. 

“Our hope is to train volunteers to come and sit with these patients and do activities, whether it be playing games, colouring in, read them a story or just talk to them about their life,” she said. 

“Many people as they get older and retire find there is a great big space in their life that they filled with work and all of a sudden there is nothing there. 

“I think people will get so much warmth out of it because they’re doing something for someone else. 

“If there is someone that can sit with them and read the paper or a book, play a game or just have a chat then hopefully it’s going to decrease their level of agitation.”

Executive assistant Ann Silver said they were looking for caring compassionate people.

“Some people want to really connect with another human being, and our programs really do offer that,” she said.

“You can have that interconnection with other people and really make a difference – this program will make a huge difference to a lot of people,” she said.

“They won’t be superseding clinical care but will be absolutely complementing clinical care, our nurses are so hard working but it’s also about having someone sitting there and devoting five hours to that patient.” 

The hospital is hoping to train 15 volunteers, with morning and afternoon shifts available Monday through to Friday. For more information contact 9722 1694.