Volunteers provide 'priceless' support in Christchurch hospitals

Tuesday June 19, 2018

​Hospitals in Christchurch rely on the help of hundreds of volunteers to assist patients, visitors and staff, and raise much-needed funds.

Canterbury DHB rural facilities also have "friends" of the hospital organisations, such as the Friends of Ashburton Hospital, and Tuarangi group which has been running for 42 years.

These groups give their time and skills to help staff, fundraise, and provide thoughtful donations to provide extra treats and care for patients.

The Friends of Oxford Hospital committee recently ran a fundraiser at the Oxford A&P Show for a future-proofed helipad for Christchurch Hospital as part of Māia Health Foundation's 13 Minutes campaign.

Over 200 people volunteer at Christchurch Hospital. Volunteers run the gift shop and trolley, help patients and visitors with other tasks such as calling taxis and reading, give company to patients, help people find their way around the hospital, and undertake many other tasks.

"The wayfinders are the smiley, happy face at the front of the hospital," says Christchurch Hospital Coordinator of Volunteers Louise Hoban-Watson.

"We have such a wide range of volunteers and they all come here for different reasons. And we're just so fortunate to have them."

Louise says volunteer donations and work often fly under the radar.

"People don't realise that the chair they're sitting on, or the fish tank, or TV and art work were funded by the volunteers. A lot of people think that it's just all paid for by the DHB."

Since 1999, Christchurch Hospital Volunteers has made donations worth a total of around $2 million to Christchurch hospital, including grants for staff training and conferences. More information about fundraisers and what funds are used for can be found on the Christchurch Hospital Volunteers Facebook page.

Burwood Hospital Coordinator of Volunteers Rachael Walker says around 120 people volunteer at the hospital.

"Without all the time and energy that the volunteers put in, we wouldn't be able to run the programs that we do."

Burwood volunteers serve in the Gift Shop, help maintain the gardens and pool, run the library trolley, give computer tutoring, provide pet therapy with their dogs, and more.

Most volunteers are retired, Rachael says, and give a few hours of their time each week.

"We've just got a new piano in the foyer, so we've also got some young people who come in and play the piano for us to make it a welcoming environment."

Money raised by Burwood volunteers goes toward patient comfort and, beginning later this month, staff training.

Canterbury DHB Chief Executive David Meates says the hospitals are better places because of volunteers.

"It's National Volunteer Week, which is an opportunity for us to recognise the enormous help Canterbury DHB gets from volunteers, and thank them for that.

"The time that people donate to supporting our patients and staff is priceless."

Page last reviewed: 19 June 2018
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