Ros has been volunteering with St Catherine’s Hospice since 2012. She donates her time to give patients hand massages on our wards.
“I started volunteering with St Catherine’s in 2012. I’d always wanted to do something for charity and I liked the idea of making a difference to people facing the end of their life.
When I first started volunteering I helped in the hospice coffee shop but I was keen to have more interaction with patients. So when a new ward volunteer role was created I moved into doing that. I started volunteering on the wards serving supper to patients, but now I volunteer as a Ward Assistant giving patients hand massages.
I volunteer as part of the Therapies team and they’re a great team to work alongside. When I come in each week, there’s a list of patients who’d like a hand massage waiting for me, so I set to work making my way around the ward.
I love volunteering here. It’s like being part of a big family, and it doesn’t feel right if I miss my weekly visit to the hospice
I always feel so well appreciated by all of the staff here too. The doctors, nurses, housekeepers and receptionists always take the time to say hello, smile and thank me. And I’m respected by everybody I work alongside.
It’s a privilege to volunteer at the hospice and even though I’m not new to it anymore, I still get nervous when I’m meeting patients. I want to get things right for the people so it’s a good nervousness!
I enjoy reaching out and having a connection with people. Some people fall asleep while I’m doing their hand massages then apologise afterwards but it’s a compliment that I’ve managed to relax them so much! Other people chat while I’m with them.
People tell me about their family, their work life, and the things they’ve done. It’s important to remember that they have a life behind their illness and I really enjoy hearing about it. Each person has their own stories and experiences; they’re not just a person in a bed
I went home thinking of her and I’ve brought one of her books to read now. I often reflect on conversations I’ve had with people and think about what interesting lives they’d had. When I speak to nurses they often tell me that people talk very intimately when they’re giving them a bath. It’s the same when I’m doing a hand massage for someone. People often open up to me. I think it’s because I’m a stranger, and I’m happy to listen.
Some people tell me about their illness and what they’re going through. And I do become fond of people while they’re here, so when I learn that someone has passed away, it can be sad, but the team are very supportive. I speak to someone at the start and end of my volunteering shift, and I leave anything behind before I head home.
One lady told me I took away her pain, and hearing that was amazing. Other people can be a bit off when I first approach them. It’s often because they’re frightened or scared but I view it as a challenge to help them feel more at ease. It’s rewarding when I help to calm someone and it’s lovely knowing I’ve done some good.
There was another time I was on the ward and a gentleman was in a lot of pain. I went and sat beside him while the doctors altered his medication. After he’d settled back down, he turned to me and said, ‘Thank you so much for sitting with me when the pain was at its worst.’ I was really touched. Things like knowing someone will sit with you if you need it, so you’re not on your own, make all the difference. And that’s what I feel really passionate about doing. Making a difference to people.
I can’t make patients better but I can make a difference
Volunteering has filled a gap for me and given me an opportunity to show care and love to others. It gives me chance to give something back. And that drives me to come in and give my time every week. St Catherine’s is an amazing place to volunteer. It’s very, very satisfying.”