Meet Noel, Home2Hospital Volunteer Driver
“I have been a Volunteer Driver for the Home2Hospital scheme since July 2021/ for a year. My main motivation for volunteering is that I acknowledge what it is like to be reliant on friends and family to help you attend hospital appointments for whatever reason. Your family and friends may have to give up a day’s work or daily routine to facilitate you and making sure you get to your hospital appointment safely and on time.
With Home2Hospital, the service user doesn’t have to worry about transport, which in turn can help alleviate some of the pressure involved in attending a hospital appointment for whatever reason.
On a typical day as a Home2Hospital Volunteer Driver, Paula at Bolster Community will contact me to ask if I’m available to transport a person to hospital. You confirm you are available on that particular date. I usually go to Google Maps to locate where the person resides and the length of time it takes to get to their house. Then, initial contact is made with the service user. You inform them of the time you will collect them, your make of car and what you look like. You inform them that time is not an issue and there is no rush, so as to reassure them. When I collect a client I give them my phone number and Bolster Community’s number so contact can always be maintained. You inform them that you are not far away when needed.
Noel, Volunteer Driver
Once we’re in the car, I usually initiate chat. Sometimes people may want to chat about a variety of subjects, or about their hospital visit or treatment. Sometimes my role is to become a sounding board listening to them. In some cases, you may be the only person they have to talk to in their lives. It’s important to be courteous and respectful.
A journey that stuck with me happened last year. I was taking a lady to Craigavon Hospital for a hospital appointment. This lady had recently lost her husband. She spoke of where she used to live, just outside Craigavon. On leaving hospital, I took her for a spin to her home town. Her eyesight wasn’t great, but she recognised where she was and reminisced about her family life there and her life as a young woman. She spoke of the difficulties of her late husband’s dementia.
The journey home took a longer-than-usual two hours, but was a great interaction between both of us. A friend of the lady told me later that the lady really enjoyed returning to her childhood home and being able to just talk about her husband and their life together. It summed up for me why Home2Hospital is a vital service. You are not just a vehicle to take someone to hospital, but someone who is there to listen, be non-judgemental and to help others with small gestures.