Hospice volunteers ease patients’ move from inpatient unit back home

Categories: Care.

At Martlets we’re always looking for ways to extend our package of care, and support patients to receive care in the place of their choice. For most people that is at home.

From working closely with patients, we know that leaving our inpatient unit can be a daunting time. So we’ve developed an innovative new scheme to support them.

A specially trained group of volunteers called ‘discharge buddies’ work closely with patients as they leave the inpatient unit, and during their first few weeks at home, to help them settle and feel safe.

This scheme allows us to offer practical and social care at home in a very holistic way.

Sue was one of the first volunteers to become a discharge buddy. New to Brighton, she thought it sounded interesting and would help her get to know her community.

“I’m retired now but when I was working I enjoyed working with people so when I saw this role I thought ‘yes, I can do that!’” explains Sue.

After two days of interactive training run by our discharge nurse Judith and social worker Stuart, our new volunteers were ready to start.

Sue soon had her first patient to take home.

June had been on the inpatient unit for nearly four weeks. Two days before she was due to go to home Sue popped along to introduce herself. June mentioned that she thought ‘discharge buddy’ was a lovely name for someone to help get her settled at home, so she and Sue were off to a good start.

Sue describes helping June settle in at home: “I arrived at Martlets after lunch, as arranged, and travelled with June in a taxi to her house, where we were met by her new live-in carer who would be there to attend to household tasks and personal care if necessary.

“All was well at home, we managed to find out how to turn on the hot water and a good friend had made sure there was enough milk, tea and bread in the house.

“I made sure that the bed was made, that June had all her tablets to hand and both she and her carer knew what the medication was for. I checked that they had the phone numbers for her GP, pharmacy and Martlets “hub” in case of emergency.

“By the time I left, June and her carer seemed confident that they could manage.”

Sue visited June several times following that first day, and always felt the three of them worked well together to settle June back at home.

“I’ve done my last visit to June now and I felt my role was complete.

“I found this role rewarding; I was able to offer practical help, like making her bed or doing some shopping on my way round.

“A few days after she got home June ran out of part of her medication, as I was still her buddy I was able to get the extra medication she needed from Martlets so that she didn’t have to wait to get her repeat prescription. It was good to be able to keep that link with Martlets for her.

“I always felt that I was well supported by the Martlets team and could phone at any time for advice and help. I’m looking forward to being involved with many more patients.”

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