Volunteers at hospitals recognised at national awards

VOLUNTEERS at a Liverpool Trust have scooped two sets of awards at a national ceremony recognising the amazing work that volunteers do throughout the country.

Both the Outstanding Volunteering Team award and Volunteer of the Year award were given to volunteers currently working within Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust at the Helpforce Champions awards, which took place in London on Friday.

The volunteers’ team from Aintree University Hospital took home the Outstanding Volunteering Team Award for the work they do with terminally ill patients – making it their second national award in the space of three months. It follows their success at the NHS Parliamentary Awards in July, where they were named Volunteers of the Year for their end of life companionship service.

Starting in 2012, the end of life service has attracted the attention of a number of other NHS organisations that want to learn from Aintree’s approach. The team provide patients with companionship during their last days, holding their hands, moistening their lips, listening to their requests and acting as a liaison between the patient, their family and the nursing staff.

Dianne Brown, chief nurse at the Trust, said: “I’m incredibly proud of our volunteers and this award is richly deserved. The end of life service really enhances the quality of support available to our patients and their families, and the volunteers do a superb job alongside our clinical nursing teams.

“Being able to spend time simply sitting with a dying patient, talking to them and their relatives can be an enormous comfort. And for those without any family to be with them, the presence of a volunteer ensures that a patient doesn’t die alone.”

Gary Thomas

However the awards didn’t stop there, with Volunteer of the Year being awarded to Royal Liverpool University Hospital volunteer, Gary Thomas.

Gary started volunteering at the Royal in 2015. He provides emotional support and companionship to patients on wards who are facing an amputation. As an amputee himself, Gary has enormous empathy and understanding of the impact of this diagnosis and uses his own experience to support, encourage and inspire.

Upon being announced the winner, Gary was described as being ‘a person with a very positive outlook on life. He gives tremendous support to amputee patients, showing them that they can still enjoy their life fully.’

Colin Hont, deputy chief nurse, said: “We are ecstatic that Gary has been recognised with this national award. The manner in which he supports patients is simply fantastic. He has real compassion and empathy, and is often a trusted confidante to patients and their families when they need it most.

“He always goes the extra mile and spends so much of his personal time helping others. He is massive asset to the Trust, and is a well-deserved winner of this award. Congratulations Gary.”

Steve Warburton, chief executive of Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said of both awards: “I am incredibly proud of what our volunteers have achieved. We are extremely lucky to have such dedicated and compassionate volunteers at the Trust, who all do incredible work to support our patients and visitors. These latest national awards are testament to the quality of support they provide and it is very well deserved.”