Zul has been volunteering for Phyllis Tuckwell’s Home Support service since January 2017.
The Home Support team matches volunteers with patients, according to the skills of the volunteer, the needs and preferences of the patient, and the personalities and interests of both. Each volunteer visits their patient for three hours a day, once a week, and the service is usually offered for a year. They may help with things such as driving patients to and from hospital or GP appointments, accompanying them to the shops or garden centre, helping around the home, or simply giving them someone to talk to. Patients frequently tell us how much difference this makes to their lives, and it also gives their carers a break too, enabling them to have a few hours to themselves, knowing that their loved one is safe and well looked after.
“My wife used to be a Home Support volunteer,” says Zul, “and she said to me ‘you could do this – why don’t you give it a go?’ I wasn’t sure whether I could, but she persuaded me so I said ‘Ok, let’s do it.’
“Clive is my first patient,” he continues. “The subjects we talk about are quite varied and intellectually stimulating. One of the key subjects we talk about is sport, and we have a good amount to say about that! We talk about football a lot, and we don’t support the same team, so that creates a nice little dynamic!”
“I’m flexible about what Clive wants to do during my time with him. If he wants to talk that’s great, if he wants to go out then that’s fine too – I’m completely comfortable with his requirements and will go with what he wants to do.”
“As Home Support volunteers, we get very good training. It’s really crucial. It helped me get my parameters right – to understand how I should I conduct myself, how I should behave, what I should say, and also how I should portray the brand of Phyllis Tuckwell, how they want to be perceived and the benefit they give to the patient.”
“The initial training takes place over a weekend once a month, for a few months. It covers all sorts of topics and helps you to understand yourself, so that you can then support the patient. On an ongoing basis we have regular meetings, which give us the opportunity to run scenarios by the group and check that we’re dealing with things correctly and properly. It’s a unique situation – the patient is going to be in a very delicate position physically, and mentally as well. Listening is a key thing. The patient’s going to have things to say and it’s a case of listening, understanding and giving something back – but not in your normal way, in quite a special way. The training really helps you to take that challenge on.”