Silver Chain volunteer Lorna understands what she does isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.
“For some people palliative care can be quite confronting,” Lorna said. But being there for those at the end of their life is something she is not only comfortable with – Lorna finds it incredibly rewarding. “I get more out of it than I give.”
Since retiring from nursing 25 years ago, Lorna has given back to the community in many ways. “I aim to fill my time well and joyfully – to do as much as I can for as long as I can,” she said. She’s been a part of Silver Chain’s Hospice Care Service for almost all that time.
As a volunteer, Lorna works within a team of Silver Chain doctors, nurses and social workers to support palliative care clients and their families in their own home. This typically means keeping the client company to give their carer (usually husband or wife) a break.
Apart from being on hand for any practical needs that may arise, flexibility with time (each visit averages three hours) and good interpersonal skills are key to the role. “I’m ready to talk if they want to talk,” Lorna said, respecting this may not always be the case.
“But I always take my own book or a crossword if they prefer not to.”
Silver Chain Volunteer Coordinator, Geraldine Taylor, is the link between the Hospice Care Service and volunteers like Lorna. Much of her time is spent finding, and then matching, the right volunteers to the client’s (and their family’s) needs.
“Through liaising with the nurses and social workers, I get a picture of the home situation, and am able to brief the volunteers on what to expect. We match similar backgrounds and interests where we can, but the safety and wellbeing of our volunteers is the most important thing,” Geraldine said.
“Having volunteers like Lorna mean never having to say ‘no’ to someone in need.”