Introducing Dan Bailey, Lymphoedema Volunteer
Over the last nine months, due to Coronavirus, our Lymphoedema Team have had to adapt, be creative and as responsive as possible to ensure our patients still receive the outstanding care they are used to from St Oswald’s.
Our Lymphoedema Service, recognised as a centre of excellence, cares for over 1800 patients with Lymphoedema. During this time we’ve had to transform the way we care for these people to ensure their lymphoedema is managed, as if left untreated it can cause pain, severe swelling and restricted movement. Our staff and volunteers have been at the heart of these changes and thanks to their flexibility, we are now seeing some patients in their homes and a small number of patients are still coming into our Outpatient Suite for treatment.
Dan is a Lymphoedema volunteer who began volunteering for one half day a week back in June last year. Dan tells us more about his volunteering experience and how COVID-19 has changed his role and the help and support he provides:
“I thoroughly enjoy every minute of volunteering at St Oswald’s. It’s an amazing place to be and you feel part of something really special, even when you are there for just a short time each week like me. From the nurses to the patients, everyone is so friendly and welcoming, it’s hard not to feel part of the family!
“Last year I decided I wanted to become a volunteer at St Oswald’s because I knew how vital a service they provide in the local community and because it gave me a chance to do something different whilst also helping others. I work full time at Newcastle University but as I’m lab based I often work on my own, under quite a lot of pressure, with very little opportunity to meet new people. The Hospice is the polar opposite to that. You meet so many new people and everyone you do meet is kind and considerate, and will always try their best to help you. It’s a great place to be.
“There are lots of things I really enjoy about volunteering. One of those things is that you get to see first-hand how St Oswald’s can really help make such a difference to people’s lives. It’s so rewarding seeing a patient’s condition get better and better with each appointment, knowing that the Lymphoedema Team have put so much hard work in to make that possible.
“The people at St Oswald’s are also one of the reasons I love coming in each week. From the nurses, to the Facilities staff, to the volunteers and the patients themselves. People are at the heart of everything St Oswald’s do, both in the Hospice and outside in the community. I’ve had so much fun getting to know everyone, and still do with new members of staff and volunteers!
“Before COVID, all of the appointments that I assisted on were in the clinics at the Hospice. Once lockdown began and our way of life had to change, I was given the opportunity to assist on visits out into the community. I’ve really enjoyed going to new places and seeing how treatments can be provided in a very different setting.
“As well as this, there have of course been big changes to what we have to do in preparation for appointments. St Oswald’s has always stressed the importance of good hygiene standards and personal protective equipment, but additional measures have been put in place during COVID such as wearing face visors during appointments and making sure you are in full PPE before entering a patient’s home.
“There have been lots of changes and it can seem daunting making sure you do everything correctly, but the team have always been on hand to offer guidance and support. They’ve never once made me feel like I had to do anything I wasn’t comfortable doing, and they do their absolute utmost to make sure volunteers feel safe, both at the Hospice and out in the community.
“COVID has obviously been a very difficult time for everyone everywhere, including the Lymphoedema patients who had to take extra precautions during lockdown because of underlying conditions or age. The Hospice have done everything in their power to make sure patients have still been able to get those vital treatments. Getting to meet the patients, getting to know them and putting a smile on their face whilst doing so has been something I will remember fondly for a long time.
“Volunteers play such an important role at St Oswald’s and I feel privileged to be part of the Lymphoedema Team. For anyone thinking about or considering volunteering at St Oswald’s, go for it! You’ll meet so many friendly people and you’ll be able to play a crucial part in helping people all around the North East – you won’t regret it!