KHSC ready to return to pre-pandemic volunteer numbers

Volunteers are an integral part of helping KHSC offer better patient and family experiences at Kingston area hospitals, according to the organization. Photo via KHSC.

As part of National Volunteer Week, Kingston Health Sciences Centre (KHSC) is putting the call out to the community in hopes of attracting new, or returning volunteers, who are interested in making a difference in the lives of patients and families.

National Volunteer Week runs April 14 to 20, 2024. This year’s theme is Every Moment Matters, which highlights the importance of every volunteer and each contribution they make at a moment when we need support more than ever, according to Volunteer Canada.

According to a release from KHSC, the health care organization had more than 800 volunteers before the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, but now that number sits at approximately 360.

“We needed to ramp down many of our volunteer programs in the early days of the pandemic to reduce the number of people inside the hospital,” said Alan Archer, Director of Workforce Planning and Labour Relations at KHSC.

“As life is now returning to normal, we’re looking to ramp our programs back up. We are currently seeking people in the community who are interested in making KHSC a warmer place for everyone who enters our sites to receive care.”?

Volunteers are highly valued members of the health care team at KHSC, according to the organization, and they play a vital role in helping to improve the patient experience and complement the high standard of patient care provided by staff and physicians.

“KHSC volunteers support patients and family members throughout their health care journey and enhance each step of the patient experience,” Archer continued.

“The sharing of time, skills, empathy, and creativity is vital to the inclusivity, strength, and well-being of our community.”

Individuals who are interested in volunteering can choose from a variety of roles, as described by KHSC, including:

  • Direct patient support roles: volunteers can spend time with patients, sharing hobbies or interests such as playing music, reading together, doing puzzles and crafts, or simply going for a walk. These volunteers are guided by a genuine desire to best meet the needs of the individuals they are engaging with. Sometimes they simply provide a warm blanket or sit quietly with an individual while their family takes a break.
     
  • Liaison and information roles: these volunteers provide support by playing a crucial role helping people get where they need to be. Their objective is to be of assistance by providing directions, walking with someone to where they need to be, or calling for information or assistance on their behalf, making the hospital a more welcoming environment.
     
  • Tuck shop, gift shop, and lottery booth roles: these roles are ideal for individuals who enjoy meeting new people, helping them find the perfect gift, making small talk, and providing a listening ear, in addition to a cup of coffee or lotto ticket. Not only do they help provide this vital service, but the profits raised from these businesses are donated back to the hospital to enhance patient care.

“Volunteer roles are determined based on the individual’s skills, experience, talents, and availability,” Archer explained.

“We appreciate that people have busy lives, and we offer flexible scheduling including weekday, evening, and weekend options that can vary anywhere from one to four hours weekly depending on the needs of the program.” 

Gananoque resident Penny Huntley, said her volunteer role at KHSC has been a fulfilling way to help make a difference in the lives of others.

“When I retired, I needed to find a sense of purpose that my previous career as a teacher had once provided, and it was initially decided that volunteering on the pediatric floor would be a great fit for me. Sometimes I would read stories and play games with children, other times I’d go for walks or do crafts. I was just there to offer some extra interaction with the children and a break to parents who might need it,” she stated.

“Recently, I have returned to working as a part-time supply teacher and my volunteer role has shifted to making appointment reminder calls to patients. The people in the Dermatology department that I work with have been so incredibly understanding and flexible with my volunteering schedule and have been very accommodating in allowing me to work around my supply teaching days. This has helped make volunteering at KHSC a very rewarding experience that has allowed me to give back to our community in a very satisfying way.”

KHSC said it has refined its application and orientation process to make the experience easier for interested individuals. To learn more about KHSC volunteer opportunities or to sign up for a virtual information session, visit www.kingstonhsc.ca/working-and-volunteering/volunteer-khsc or call 613-548-2359.

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