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Hospital seeks new lifestyle volunteers to help patients lead healthy lives

Lifestyles volunteers
Left to right: Leigh Scarff (Support Worker), Sue Cooper (Lifestyles volunteer), Glenn Jarvis (Lifestyles volunteer), Sabrina Libralon (Lifestyles volunteer) and Kathryn Kingdon (Health Improvement Co-ordinator).

Published: 26 November 2018

Torbay Hospital is looking for enthusiastic people to become ‘lifestyle volunteers’ to offer patients advice and support to help them lead a healthier life.

Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Torbay Hospital, currently has seven lifestyles screening and advice volunteers working within the emergency assessment units at the hospital. However, the Trust is looking to bring this total up to around 20 volunteers so that the service can be rolled out to more wards and departments.

After undertaking training, the volunteers are able to offer patients information and signposting for smoking, alcohol, physical activity, social isolation, debt, carers support and advice on nutrition. They can also refer patients who may need extra help and support directly into the correct service for more specialist advice.

Andrea Trotman, Volunteer Project Officer for Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust said: “People often come into hospital to be treated for a specific health need and are discharged as soon as their physical needs have been resolved. However, we know that smoking, drinking alcohol and what we eat can have a dramatic impact on our long term health and likelihood of developing long term or life threatening conditions such as cancer, stroke or heart attack.

“By using volunteers, we hope that we will be able get early recognition of any worrying lifestyle habits and help get those people who want to change an aspect of their lifestyle the right support to do so. By working with people in this way we may be able to prevent the need for people to be readmitted in the future.”

Glenn Jarvis, Hospital Lifestyle Screening Volunteer: “I love my volunteering job – I’ve got to know a lot of people and I’ve made some good friends. It’s been a real eye opener for me and has made me aware that there are an awful lot of people who need help.

“The screening tool is really quick and easy to use but the most important thing is that it creates conversation and, by taking the time to chat to people, we have been able to understand their lifestyles and what support, if any is needed. We can also signpost people to the right services and sometimes that is all that is needed to help people make a simple change.

“To anyone thinking about becoming a volunteer, I would say ‘do it’ because you’ll get so much out of it!”

Volunteers need to be aged over 16 years old. If you would like more information about becoming a lifestyle volunteer, you can get in touch with our lifestyle team via 01803 604361.