Volunteers sought to give comfort

Michael TraillAlbany Advertiser

The Albany Health Campus is calling for volunteers for a new program to help comfort patients and families who walk through the emergency department doors.

WA Country Health Service’s regional director Geraldine Ennis said volunteers would be a valuable addition to the patient-centred care.

“The emergency department is dynamic and, at times, a demanding place for both patients needing care and our clinicians managing multiple presentations,” Ms Ennis said.

“Under this new program, volunteers will play a key role in comforting and reassuring patients and their families and offer enjoyable activities, such as reading and playing cards in the waiting room.”

The AHS operates a number of volunteer programs, including the dementia meet-and-greet and cancer services volunteers; however, this is a first for the emergency department.

Training and ongoing support will be provided to those who put their hand up for the program.

One local Albany resident who already donates her time at the hospital is Emma Abraham.

“It’s so rewarding to think I may have made a person’s day,” Ms Abraham said.

“I can make a positive difference simply by sitting and chatting with patients, doing a puzzle or just sharing a cuppa. It’s a very heart-warming experience and I highly recommend it.”

A WA Country Health Service spokeswoman said the wellbeing and safety of volunteers would be paramount.

In April, an experienced emergency doctor criticised a lack of security at the Albany campus during evidence to a State parliamentary committee in April.

“In addition to ongoing security services and duress alarms, frontline staff receive specialised training to quickly recognise and respond to the early signs of aggressive behaviour,” the WACHS spokeswoman said.

“The WA Country Health Service also places a particular emphasis on early intervention.”

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