8 March 2021
Amongst the many impacts of the Coronavirus pandemic, our Health and Care learners have found themselves unable to complete their work placements – an essential part of their training and experience. So, with placements currently on-hold and an increasing need for volunteers to join the befriending service in local hospitals, we’ve worked together with the Person-Centred Care Team at Aneurin Bevan University Health Board (ABUHB) to tackle both issues simultaneously.
With opportunities open to all Health and Care learners to volunteer with the Person-Centred Care Team, our students have been able to gain valuable experience in care settings during the pandemic. At a time when visiting family and friends in hospital is restricted to reduce the spread of infection, loneliness is a serious concern for the Person-Centred Care Team. But volunteers working on the wards as part of the befriending service has helped to combat this through the use of digital technology.
So far, 25 of our inspirational Health and Care learners have volunteered as part of the scheme. They’ve not only volunteered on wards across ABUHB in Gwent, but in all areas of health and care. Volunteering with the Person-Centred Care Team involves engaging, talking and interacting with patients, especially the vulnerable and elderly, while using digital devices to keep them connected with their loved ones. And with National Intergenerational Week upon us (8-14th March), we believe that opportunities for generations to connect like this will become even more important as we emerge from the current pandemic.
Health and Care learner, Elena Hall, explained: “At 17, it’s really hard to find an opportunity where I can give back to the community. But when I saw the Volunteering position with the Person-Centred Care Team I knew it interested me. The training sessions were well executed, especially due to being remote, and as soon as I met the team I felt comfortable. This position is really awarding and being part of it has been really eye opening! I’ve felt comfortable throughout the whole process and look forward to every shift knowing it’s making a difference!”
This volunteering has been a great experience that has allowed our learners to make a difference to the people they’re working with, while gaining skills and competencies that are required for their course. They’ve had an opportunity to develop and practice communication skills, empathy and listening skills, as well as receiving training in PPE, infection control, confidentiality, and dignity and respect. And importantly, they’ve learnt to empower patients using digital technology to connect them with their family and friends.
Harriett Saunders, Health and Care learner, has found that: “Since starting volunteering, the Person-Centred Care Team have been absolutely amazing and welcoming. They make sure that I’m comfortable with how much I interact with patients and ensure that I’m not left alone with a patient until I’m confident in doing so. The experience has already allowed me to gain valuable insight into a hospital setting, but also how patients are struggling with current circumstances and hopefully how volunteers like myself can impact a patient’s day. It’s a wonderful experience and I’m enjoying every minute of it.”
The volunteering scheme has been a fantastic success already, demonstrating how important it is for a further education college like Coleg Gwent to collaborate with local employers. In fact, it has been such a success for both our learners and the Person-Centred Care Team that we’re now exploring a continuing partnership for placements for Health and Care students after lockdown too.
As our students are potentially the future workforce for ABUHB, Gino Parisi, Person-Centred Care and Partnerships Manager, is delighted that this partnership allows them to support our students to gain invaluable skills that will enhance their learning. This valuable insight into potential future careers with ABUHB has also supported the delivery of care and improved the wellbeing of patients during the COVID pandemic, benefitting the health board as well as our students.
We’re seeing an ever-growing demand for our courses in Health and Social Care. So, if this is a career you could see yourself in, join us at our next virtual open event to find out more or apply today.