Volunteer of the year
Individual or Team Nomination?
In these challenging times, nominators were asked to show how the nominee had demonstrated the following qualities:
- Exceptional work ethic - going above and beyond their job description, especially in the past 12 months.
- Outstanding achievement/s in work or outside of the organisation where relevant.
- Drive for innovation and proactive leadership in these challenging times.
- High level of interpersonal skills, such as kindness, empathy, loyalty and thoughtfulness to staff and patients.
- A resilience considering Covid to their role and to the health and wellbeing of their colleagues.
Nominee's story :
The Patient Panel of Princess Alexandra Hospital showed remarkable resilience during the pandemic.
Created eight years ago, the panel support the hospital in its goal to improve patient experience. It’s totally autonomous but collaborates with staff and management to ensure treatments and innovations have the patient at the heart of decision making.
Entirely voluntary, it’s become indispensable to the hospital and now works across all hospital services. So successful, it was awarded The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, the only group of its kind to receive such an accolade.
The last year has been challenging, undeterred the panel hasn’t slowed down, in fact, it’s been more crucial than ever, particularly for staff morale.
During the first lockdown, like others, the panel were in disbelief. Many members are elderly, with health issues, strict isolation was required and attendance at the hospital meetings prohibited. But after a few weeks, the panel decided to function remotely through Teams/Zoom.
Their input was frequently required at meetings and because of the logistical ease of attendance, became more in demand than ever. In addition to their regular committees, remote meetings meant they were able to contribute feedback on the new hospital plans, discussions on the revised value system of the hospital and the implementation of the new Digital Senate (for patient care).
Sadly, their much-acclaimed conference, for 2020 was deferred 15 months later. Their dedication secured globally renowned speakers to attend as well as engaging a significant number of students attending as a learning opportunity for A-levels.
The prolonged hospital lockdown meant that the panel could not easily offer the support and comfort harassed staff desperately required. The Chair and Vice Chair deliberated on how they could support remotely, leading to a letter writing strategy. Identifying key areas, sending staff their gratitude. Sympathy letters were written to areas that’d suffered the most sickness. Sadly, bereavement letters were sent to the families of staff who lost their life. This gratitude and loyalty to the wonderful staff has been expressed by cake presentations to the most pressured areas of the hospital. They also honoured retirees, presenting them with gifts as a token of admiration and respect.
During a brief period when access to the hospital was allowed, the panel instigated a memorial service for war dead and pandemic losses in conjunction with the local authority who were delighted to work with them, providing beautiful poppy displays. The service was simple but effective and visitors, staff and patients were moved by the visual displays to remind all of loss.
Access to the hospital has now been permitted, the panel is delighted to meet face-to-face with staff, offering their thanks for the challenging year. Remote meetings are to remain and become good practice.
Given the average age and the vulnerability of many of its members they have shown remarkable resilience and a determination to carry on at all costs. They have no fixed job description but have worked tirelessly to support others.
Worthy recipients of the Volunteer of the year Award.