An innovative health volunteer service has continued to grow, meaning hundreds of local people are being supported in their everyday lives by kind and dedicated people living in the community. Voluntary Norfolk was commissioned by NHS South Norfolk Clinical Commissioning Group to provide a Health Volunteer Service since 2014, and have recruited more than 240 volunteers over the course of the project.
Health Volunteers offer practical support, help and guidance for people in South Norfolk who are recovering from a period of ill health, or living with a long term condition. Individuals referred into the service are matched to an appropriate volunteer, who meets with them and decides how they can best support them. David Smythe, Health Volunteer Service Coordinator, says “Setting someone up with a volunteer is a big step – we know the skills and personalities of the volunteers that take part in the service, so we can facilitate a meeting between the person needing support and the volunteer we think would suit them best.”
“We find out what the person needs, and how the volunteer can help – this can range from keeping a house and garden tidy to reduce the chances of someone tripping over, helping someone with their shopping, or assisting them in attend groups or activities they go to.”
Reg and Judy are a husband and wife in South Norfolk who have really benefitted from the service. Reg has dementia and, like all carers, Judy sometimes finds it hard. But volunteer Eddie has come to the rescue, via the Voluntary Norfolk service funded by NHS South Norfolk CCG. He has ‘befriended’ them. He pops in regularly to chat to Reg and often takes him out on trips, giving Judy much-needed respite… a bit of ‘me-time’.
“He has given Reg the ability to talk to another man and go out … it’s a lifeline,” says Judy.
Karl Hills, Health Volunteer Senior Coordinator, says: “Anyone can contact the Health Volunteer Service, and GP Surgeries across South Norfolk have been actively referring patients that they think would benefit from volunteer support. In the past year, over 300 referrals have come from GPs and health and social care practitioners into the service.”
“People receiving help from a volunteer tell us how valuable they find the service, and this is mirrored by the experience of the volunteers themselves.”
Ruth Nobbs, Commissioning Support Manager for the Integrated Commissioning Team at NHS South Norfolk CCG, says “We have been delighted by the impact this service has had on people living in South Norfolk – the support that volunteers can offer provides people recovering from illness or living with a health condition with a boost to their daily health and wellbeing, as well as their connection to the community they live in.”