Supporting the older generation

Funding level: £10,001 to £25,000


Yeovil Hospital Charity is Yeovil Hospital’s official charity. We pay for improvements to facilities and services at Yeovil Hospital and all of our work goes directly to helping patients.

Older patients in particular can find life in hospital challenging. They are separated from their usual support networks and if there stay goes on for more than a few days, loneliness and isolation are a serious issue. Mealtimes can also be very stressful for those patients who may have a dementia or are disorientated. Someone who has the time to sit and help and to talk would make all the difference.

NHS resources are being stretched by an ageing population. The hospital is treating patients with more complex issues than ever before. In many of the wards at Yeovil Hospital, over 90% of patients are aged 75 or over. Many patients live alone, having moved to Somerset to retire so giving them some company during their stay is important. NHS funding is rightly focused on saving lives and treating people’s health issues. For the extra services and facilities that really make a difference to patients, Yeovil Hospital Charity is there to help.

Volunteers already play a key role at the hospital but to make a real difference for older patients we would like to develop a new volunteer programme called HOSPITAL COMPANIONS. We aim to recruit and train 50 specialist volunteers who will be able listen to patients, lend a hand and provide some company, help and advice at mealtimes. We would use the funds to recruit the right volunteers and to train and support them. By recruiting the right volunteers and giving them the right training, they would be equipped to continue in their roles for several years. We would also use some of the funds to promote the project within the community, which would encourage local organisations to get involved and would help us to attract further funding and support in the future.

Our volunteers will receive specialist training in two specific fields. We want to bring the volunteers to a level where they can really make a meaningful difference to an older person’s health and wellbeing.

Across the NHS, when people have a frustration with their hospital experience, it can often stem from a feeling they are not being properly listed to and treated as an individual. Listening properly in a supportive way is not always easy. Hospital volunteers are often operating in a very challenging environment with patients who can sometimes be very confused. We want to give them training that will provide them all of the skills they need to show patients that someone cares about them and is willing to listen and support them. Having a friend at a difficult time makes a difference.

Malnutrition among older people is a serious issue. If an older person has difficulty eating without assistance, they may not be getting the nourishment they need. It can also be because there is a lack of understanding of what foods it is important to eat, which can vary from patient to patient. These issues are made much worse when a patient has a dementia or specific dietary requirements. Training in this area will include: nutrition and health; issues older people face when eating; how best to support and encourage healthy eating. Eating alone is also an issue for some patients, who are used to talking and interacting at meal times. So providing some company during a meal will make a difference in itself.

Our HOSPITAL COMPANIONS would be spread across the hospital wherever the need is greatest. By working alongside other volunteers, they will be able to share their learning and raise the standard of support provided by other volunteers and carers. As a charity we want to make a difference for patients, and providing someone with a friendly face who they can talk to and trust, is a simple but effective way of improving the wellbeing of at least 5,000 older people.

Yeovil Hospital Charity

Location: Yeovil

By training volunteers to provide the right support and giving them the time and skills to listen properly, they will be able to make older patients stay in hospital much more enjoyable. Having someone you can trust and someone you can talk to can make all the difference.
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