Pioneering A&E volunteering scheme

New pilot scheme in Accident & Emergency units will recruit 100 volunteers to support patients. AndE volunteers

As part of a new pilot scheme in Denmark Hill and Princess Royal University Hospital (PRUH) Accident & Emergency (A&E) units, King’s College Hospital is recruiting 100 volunteers. The pilot is funded by a charitable grant from innovation foundation Nesta and the Office for Civil Society.

The aim of the scheme is to support patients during their time moving through A&E, helping out in providing information on waiting times, contacting family and friends and accompanying patients for X-rays and tests. They may also help escort patients home and conduct follow-up with them for up to four weeks afterwards, this is with the aim of reducing readmissions and further attendances at A&E.

Volunteers will provide practical and emotional help, complementing the work of clinical teams. For this particular project older volunteers with 'life skills and experience' are sought. The over 50’s are particularly suitable for patients who are unwell or vulnerable.

Dr Malcolm Tunnicliff, Clinical Director for Emergency Medicine at Denmark Hill, said:

The new A&E volunteers will be able to provide practical and emotional help to benefit both patients and staff and everyone who comes through our doors in A&E. It is an ambitious project for A&E so we are looking forward to seeing the positive impact it will have on patient experience.

Volunteers will be given comprehensive training, including sessions on supporting the elderly, and looking after patients with learning difficulties, mental health issues and dementia. In the A&E units at PRUH and Denmark Hill, over 200,000 people each year are treated, many of whom have complex medical and social needs. The volunteers will provide much needed assistance and help support and improve quality of care.

Anyone who has friends or relatives over 50 years of age who might be interested, can contact petula.storey@nhs.net or call 020 3299 4223