Liz Carter, Wellbeing Services Manager at our hospice gives us an update on our Telephone Buddy service for patients and carers.
“The third lockdown and winter still firmly being with us has inevitably had an impact on our patients and their families. So our Telephone Buddy service is still available for socially isolated patients and family members or carers who would like a friendly chat with one of our trained volunteers over a 12 week period.
Our Telephone Buddies can provide people we care for with the type of support that a good friend or neighbour might offer
They check in and make sure the person they’re speaking with is okay. They chat, they listen and they share stories. What they chat about is up to them, however each patient or carer is made aware that if their volunteer is concerned about them, they will call into the hospice and let us know.
We recently reviewed the service and a number of our volunteers said they found it challenging to finish the calls after 12 weeks. To help support them with this, we’ve now introduced monthly group sessions for volunteers to talk about their experiences of being a buddy, get advice and support, and talk about anything else that may be concerning them. As a team of volunteers and staff we work together to make sure that each patient or carer is supported to access longer term befriending services, or referred to other hospice or local voluntary and community services that best meet their individual needs.
Lin is one of our 14 Telephone Buddy volunteers. She shares the positive impact the calls have had on both her and her buddy:
“My lady was always pleased to hear from me which gave me an initial lift and was a positive start to every conversation we had. She loved pets and was always interested to hear about my budgie Charlie, who’d be chatting in the background during our talks.
Unfortunately my lady was unable to walk far and I understood there was a long drive to her house. One day she mentioned that she’d been given a mobility scooter but hadn’t really tried it. My Mum had had one and loved the freedom it gave her, and we chatted about this. I was so delighted to hear one day that my buddy had found the confidence to go up and down her drive on her own scooter. I was just so pleased to hear this news, imagining the different views she’d now see with this little bit of independence.”
Another of our volunteers summed up what it’s like to be a Telephone Buddy and what she gains from it below:
“My buddy has such a lovely attitude to life and I love listening to her stories and finding out more about her life. She was evacuated in the war and has suffered many losses but always counts her blessings. I thoroughly enjoy my conversations with her and I wish I could bottle her. After every call she leaves me with the feeling that I’d love to adopt her if I could! I was slightly hesitant about becoming a Telephone Buddy but I hadn’t realised just how lovely it would be to have such interesting conversations, how much I’d learn and how much I’d enjoy it.”
It’s not just our volunteers who gain from the service. Some of our patients said:
‘It’s nice to chat to someone outside of the family and know that things are still carrying on in the outside world’
‘It takes my mind off things, and stops my brain going round in a circle. I liked chatting about my buddy’s garden and hearing about the things she’s making.’
‘I’m very grateful for the calls as I was a bit down in the beginning. It was nice to talk about things other than coronavirus. We found we had a lot in common.’
We look forward to supporting more people in the future.”
If you are a patient, family member or carer under St Catherine’s care and you think you might benefit from speaking to a Telephone Buddy please speak to one of the team who will be able to discuss making a referral with you.