Weekend Diagnosis: Volunteer ‘way finders’ helping our visitors

31 August 2016

Judy SaundersThis Weekend Diagnosis is from Judy Saunders, our Director of Workforce and Organisational Development

Hello, my name is Judy Saunders and I joined Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust in August as Director of Workforce and Organisational Development. The Trust actively promotes a culture that values difference and recognises that people from different backgrounds and experiences bring valuable contributions and enhance the way we work.

Our Employability Hub does just that – acting as a vehicle for supporting the local community to find sustainable employment. The Hub is responsible for managing several different projects to help specific groups in our community find work experience and employment, including young people, people with a learning disability or autistic spectrum condition, homeless people and ex-offenders, amongst others.

The latest exciting project launched by the Employability Hub, in conjunction with our volunteers’ service, is a way-finding service for Torbay Hospital patients and visitors. Based in our Level 2 Outpatients Reception, our volunteer Way Finders have provided a warm and friendly welcome for people coming into Torbay Hospital during a pilot this summer.

In a very short time, the Way Finders have become an integral part of the running of the Hospital, with both staff and the public benefitting from this invaluable scheme. We recognise that Torbay Hospital is a large site and it can often be confusing for people trying to navigate their way to appointments, or to visit their friends and relatives. Being a newcomer myself, I know exactly how that feels!

The success of this project has far outweighed anything we anticipated, with feedback confirming how helpful the service has been and how it has enabled people to feel more at ease at an often anxious time.

One particular family gave the following feedback, which I’m sure you will agree really highlights the value and impact of the Way Finders:

“We are new to Torbay Hospital and today I visited with my daughter for an MRI scan at 11.30am. My daughter has difficulty walking but prefers not to use a wheelchair. We arrived at the Main Entrance with no idea of the route to MRI, and with about 5 minutes to spare before the appointment. We were met by an extremely helpful man who asked us where we were going and if we would like him to take us there. What a fantastic help it was. It reduced our stress levels about potentially being late for our appointment and getting lost. He was a really helpful, polite person who got us to MRI straightaway with no fuss. Most of all, it meant my daughter only had the minimum distance to walk. We are very grateful for this help, and have not experienced this at other hospitals.”

Following the success of the pilot, I am delighted to share with you the news that this project will now be launched on a permanent basis across the Torbay Hospital site from September 2016.

If you would like to know more about this scheme, or would like to become a volunteer Way Finder, please contact the Employability team on 01803 656607, 07766 132984, or via our contact form. By becoming a volunteer Way Finder you can make a real difference to the experience of people visiting Torbay Hospital.


Weekend Diagnosis a fortnightly column published in the Herald Express discussing local health and care issues.

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