Volunteering as a Ward Clerk on the Inpatient Unit at St Elizabeth Hospice is perfect for David Gabriel, 69, as it enables him to “do something for the local community.”
When David retired as a Company Director three years ago, he thought he would find it difficult but the reality has been very different. He knew that he would like to do some volunteer work as he didn’t want to continue in the Commercial world as a part-time consultant.
Whilst walking his dog, a friend of David’s suggested that he try a volunteer role at St Elizabeth Hospice as she already volunteered and recommended it. He had reservations about working for a hospice as, like many others, he had little knowledge of what a hospice actually does and held the common view that it would be a depressing place where “people went to die.”
David soon realised that this was not the case. David explains:“St Elizabeth Hospice does so much more than people appreciate, it’s so positive.”
The role of a Ward Clerk is centred around looking after patients: arranging their transport; bookings; making appointments; answering non-medical enquiries; speaking to families; liaising with the ambulance service as well as administering referrals, updating files and dealing with day-to-day reception issues.
David finds the work interesting with a manageable level of responsibility:
“I missed the responsibility I had with my job in shipping and I wanted my volunteering role to be a responsible one, which it is.
“I get a great deal of pleasure from seeing things working.”
Since taking up his role, David feels very comfortable in the Inpatient Unit:
“If someone dies then I know they have had the best care possible. You also see people coming in for respite or pain relief who are very ill and scared and they leave happy and relieved.”
It was made very clear to David during his induction period, that there are a number of people to turn to for support and advice if the demands of his role require it; he admits that it can be difficult when you lose a patient whom you have got to know but said:
“The nurses and HCAs here are great. We all get on well with each other and you talk to many different people when you are a volunteer so there is a fun, positive atmosphere. It is not drab or sad.”
In addition to his two full days at St Elizabeth Hospice, David still finds time to walk his dog; go to the gym; socialise with his wife and friends and take care of the garden.