Volunteering case studies

Volunteering case studies

Regular visits from volunteers helped reduce the isolation and anxiety felt by an elderly patient in Glasgow.

A 72-year-old female patient, who was registered blind, was admitted to hospital in Greater Glasgow and Clyde with multiple medical conditions. Due to the nature of her medical condition she was temporarily confined to bed. She did not have any family and her only friend, a neighbour, had to take numerous buses to get to the hospital and was not able to make the lengthy journey.

Staff believed that the patient would benefit from daily volunteer visits as she appeared to be very isolated. The Volunteer Coordinator visited with her and, despite her communication being limited due to a shortness of breath and receiving oxygen, she was keen to take part. She agreed that her information could be passed onto volunteers from other wards so they could come in and chat with her.

What happened

Volunteers noted that building rapport was not difficult as the patient was a friendly, welcoming and good-humoured woman. She felt comfortable to express concerns and share her life story with the Volunteer Coordinator.

The patient often felt very down and said that the daily visits were keeping her going. During her stay on the ward, she was feeling unsure and confused about her personal things (i.e. where her key to her safe at home was, how much money she had with her, where her handbag was located). Volunteers were, with her permission, able to try and resolve these issues. This involved communicating with ward staff, listening to the patient’s concerns and finding out what solution would be best.

Because of the sensitive nature of this individual case the Volunteer Coordinator asked the volunteers to feed back any concerns or comments after every visit. This would be followed up with the Volunteer Coordinator on the ward. During her second week on the ward the patient was visited numerous times by 5 different volunteers and the Volunteer Coordinator.

What changed?

The patient herself said that the daily visits were "keeping her going" and staff remarked that the patient was more amiable and less anxious after a visit from a volunteer.

When asked her thoughts on the volunteering service, the patient said she felt "spoilt by the kindest people" and "I can’t believe there are still people like you in the world".

As of April 2018 she continues to be inpatient, receiving regular visits from volunteers.

Lessons Learned

This has demonstrated the importance of volunteers and the vital support that communication social contact plays in the well-being of patients.

This case study has been shared with members of staff and future volunteers to help inform their practice.

This case study was submitted for Volunteers' Week 2018.

Last Updated: 23 April 2021