They do non-patient care – delivering meal trays or assisting with parking machines – and patient care. In the oncology department, seasoned volunteers may take on a crucial task, bringing companionship and support to cancer victims.
In the years following retirement, it can be difficult to feel connected to the larger community. Many feel a desire for social contact and are looking to make a meaningful contribution. Volunteering is a great way to stay healthy and connected to the community. According to Volunteer Canada, baby boomers and senior adults in Canada contributed more than one billion volunteer hours in 2010.
Volunteering has both physical and mental benefits. Active volunteer opportunities can be a great way to keep fit while making a difference. Volunteering can help keep you mentally sharp, teach you a new skill or develop an existing skill.
Brings personal benefits
According to the Corporation for National and Community Service, those who volunteer have lower mortality rates and rates of depression later in life than those who do not volunteer. Volunteering also offers emotional benefits such as building self-esteem, developing new relationships and obtaining a sense of achievement.
A hospital is a great place to make a difference as a volunteer. Victoria General Hospital currently has almost 500 active volunteers in approximately 40 different types of volunteer positions. There are both patient care and non-patient care opportunities such as working in the Gift Shop, assisting with parking machines, performing installations at Victoria Lifeline, delivering water jugs and meal trays, offering books and magazines to patients through the Library Cart, and more. These volunteers are a tremendous asset to hospital staff, and their hard work makes a large impact on the healthcare system.
Life experience a bonus
Oncology is an ideal department to volunteer in for those who have life experience and are confident enough to help people who are truly in need of support. Oncology patients tend to come in week after week for treatment. Volunteers who can make a long-term commitment provide these patients with the opportunity to connect with a familiar face at a time when they are facing the struggle of a cancer diagnosis.
Oncology volunteer duties may include providing support and companionship, calling patients to remind them about appointments, bringing patients food and beverages, maintaining the Look Good Feel Better wig program, taking patients to rooms, weighing patients, assembling new patient packages, and delivering various items to other departments of the hospital. There are over 20 volunteers in Victoria General Hospital’s oncology department.
While some may see retirement as an ending, you can view this life transition as a beginning. Whether you are learning a new skill or giving back to your community, volunteering offers many opportunities to embark on a new journey.
If you are interested in volunteering at Victoria General Hospital, please call 204-477-3347 or fill out the online application under the volunteer section at www.vgh.mb.ca.
Nancy Taggart is manager of volunteer services at Victoria General Hospital. Suzanne Campeau is manager of patient care for Unit 3 South, Oncology at Victoria General Hospital. To support patient care at the Vic, please contact Victoria General Hospital at 204-477-3513 or online at www.thevicfoundation.ca.