The volunteers began working in March last year and have since clocked up more than 9,300 hours in the emergency department and urgent care unit.
Among those is Mel Godefroy who, despite being a busy nursing assistant at West Suffolk Hospital and travelling from Ipswich, has single-handedly notched up more than 800 volunteering hours at Addenbrooke’s.
Speaking during National Volunteers Week (1-7 June) she said: “‘I have really appreciated being welcomed to the team at Addenbrooke’s and have enjoyed helping where I can and being involved throughout the pandemic.”
St John Ambulance district manager, Lee Taylor, added: “I am so proud of our volunteers for what they have achieved and continue to offer going forwards. Mel is typical of team members who share a passion for helping and enjoy a real sense of achievement.”
The volunteers, aged 18 and over, are all trained first aiders. They all underwent a dedicated two-day Covid course with St John before joining the hospital including strict guidance on infection control.
They work on a rota basis covering five shifts per 24 hour period, often doing stints of eight to ten hours. There is no clinical responsibility for patients, but they undertake a myriad of other essential tasks.
That includes taking responsibility for PPE stock and ensuring the right equipment is in the right place at the right time. They work closely with the patient flow navigator (PFN) and the nurse in charge (NIC) and answer bleep requests, which usually relate to patient transfer to X-ray, CT, MRI, or on to wards.
The volunteers, who regularly take 16000-20000 steps per shift, also help with the feeding of patients, distributing drinks, collecting items for patients, and keeping them company at a time when they may feel scared or lonely. In return they polish skills like communication and empathy and learn from teams working in a highly pressured environment.
Urgent care programme lead, David Monk (pictured), said: “We have extended the agreement by another year with a view to it being part of our normal service delivery, which links with the St John national commitment for hospital volunteering.
“We have seen huge benefits and the feedback from staff and patients has been really positive. We have had another six volunteers join the team in the last two months and we can see the hours reaching 10,000 by the summer.”
Anyone interested in joining St John Ambulance can find more details at www.sja.org.uk