Jules Goodger volunteers on the ward Saint Francis Hospice Essex, serving meals to the hospice’s patients. Here she tells us what it’s been like to volunteer during the pandemic.
From a secretary to a social work teacher, I’ve enjoyed a varied career, yet nothing quite measures up to the fulfilment I get from volunteering on the ward at Saint Francis Hospice.
People often ask me how I can spend time in what they believe to be such a sad environment. I’m very quick to point out that it’s an extremely happy place. I simply love being at the hospice.
As well as volunteering, I juggle two new-found careers: wedding planning and performing ceremonies for weddings, funerals, and namings. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, I’ve taken on more hours. Some of our volunteers are in the high-risk category or over 70, so I’ve been covering their shifts until it’s safe for them to return.
The most challenging part of my role is getting to know a patient, only for them not to be there when I return. Yet, I’m prepared for that. I’m always guaranteed a smile and a laugh from the patients, nurses, and other staff, which makes those situations easier.
The coronavirus has changed the way I work. Namely, I have to wear extra PPE. It can be quite stifling at times, but I’m no stranger to gowns, masks and gloves. I care for my niece, who is living with multiple disabilities, so I’m used to those extra precautions.
When I’m delivering meals to patients, I always tell them that it’s “service with a smile” — even though a mask is covering my face. They often say to me that they can see I’m smiling by my eyes.
Supporting hospice staff
Everyone has done so incredibly well to keep the coronavirus out of the hospice. Patients’ visitors have been so understanding. They’ve also had to don extra personal protective equipment.
It’s rewarding to know I’m doing my bit during the pandemic. By volunteering on the ward, I’m relieving the pressure on the hospice nurses, and in turn, the NHS. Knowing that I’m helping makes me feel so much better about myself.
Working on the ward isn’t for everyone, but there are so many ways you can give your time and skills to help your local hospice.
Our Frontline is a partnership between Shout, Samaritans, Mind, Hospice UK and The Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. It offers round-the-clock one-to-one support, by call or text from trained volunteers, plus resources, tips and ideas to look after your mental health.
Hospice UK’s Just ‘B’ Counselling & Trauma helpline. The service is a free confidential national helpline available 7 days a week from 8am to 8pm on 0300 030 4434, providing bereavement, trauma and emotional support for all NHS, care sector staff and emergency service workers.
- Call the ‘Just B’ Counselling & Trauma helpline on 0300 030 4434
- Visit the Our Frontline site
For information about volunteering visit Hospice UK’s page on volunteering in hospice care