Overwhelming support for dementia buddy project in Volunteer Week

Janet Huddart, Dementia Buddy Volunteer; Louisa Balderson, Service Manager for the Royal Voluntary Service and Dianne Smith, Dementia Matron.
Janet Huddart, Dementia Buddy Volunteer; Louisa Balderson, Service Manager for the Royal Voluntary Service and Dianne Smith, Dementia Matron.

A new ward volunteer scheme to help patients with dementia has announced overwhelming success during Volunteer Week (June 1-7).

The Royal Voluntary Service donated £127,000 to launch a volunteers’ programme in partnership with University Hospital of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust (UHMBT) last August.

And the project has been so successful that there is now a waiting list for those willing to help.

The first volunteer started at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary in May with the aim to help in-patients with activities to trigger happy memories, as well as to provide companionship and read to them.

Louisa Balderson, Service Manager for the Royal Voluntary Service RLI on-ward scheme, said: “We were pleasantly surprised by the number of applicants.

“They will be making a real difference to those with dementia in hospital.

“Hospital is a scary place for most people and can be distressing for people with dementia.

“The dementia buddy volunteers will provide a friendly and welcoming presence and provide support that will ease their confusion to hopefully make their stay in hospital more comfortable.”

Dianne Smith, Dementia Matron for UHMBT, said: “The volunteer scheme will help enable comfort and familiarity of reminiscence for patients together with social interaction and wellbeing within the clinical environment.

“It’s great to hear about this overwhelming success during Volunteer Week.”