Local hospitals appealing for special volunteers

Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals (DBTH) are looking for more ‘Butterfly Volunteers’ to help provide comfort and company to hospital patients in their final moments.

Introduced in 2017, these special helpers spend time with patients when medical and clinical staff cannot. They will sit and talk, run errands and also help the patient’s loved ones, giving them valuable time to be able to go home for a few hours, safe in the knowledge that their friend, parent, child or significant other is not alone.

Julie Taylor is one of 22 volunteers currently at the Trust, she said of her experiences as a Butterfly Volunteer: “I believe that this is one of the most important things I have ever done, and I really consider it a privilege to spend time with patients during their final moments.

“While you often think of this time as being very sad, there is such warmth being shared by families and friends and being able to help during this time is hugely rewarding. When patients are very poorly, often they just want company and to know that they are not alone. Whether this is holding their hand, chatting with them or simply being there, it is a very humbling experience.”

The Trust is asking for would-be-volunteers to apply by Monday 17 June by emailing dbth.butterflyvolunteer@nhs.net. A full day of training will be provided, as well as support from the Trust’s End of Life Care team.

Karen Lanaghan, End of Life Care Coordinator, said: “We will all be affected by death at some point and as a hospital it is our duty to ensure that we get this aspect of care right, treating the patient with dignity and respect.

“Due to challenges we face as a health service, we can often view a patient as a series of symptoms, rather than a person with hopes, desires and also fears. While it isn’t always possible for our medics and clinicians to sit and spend time with individuals during the end of their life, our Butterfly Volunteers offer this crucial support. You don’t get a second chance at this kind of care and this is one way in which we hope to ensure that we get it right.”