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Day in the life

Bill Ritchie

Ward Volunteer

My name is Bill Ritchie, I am a ward volunteer at the Brownlee Medical Ward, Gartnavel General Hospital. I have been
volunteering in the Brownlee since 2012.  The Brownlee ward is a medical ward providing clinical care to a wide range of patients. The ward is a fast - paced, with many patients’ unwell and requiring acute medical interventions and a great deal of medical and nursing attention.

A significant proportion of the patients will have some cognitive impairment. Some may be medically well, which require less medical nursing attention, but due to complex social circumstances, may lead to them spending longer in hospital whilst awaiting appropriate plans for safe
discharge, either home or to a care home environment.


Welcome to my day!

My volunteer day is a Wednesday starting at 11 am.  On arrival I sign in and report to the Sister/Senior Charge Nurse who gives me a quick brief and if lets me know if there is anything I need to know in order to conduct my duties safely.

I go round the ward and say hello to everyone, and introduce myself to new patients. Many patients don’t have visitors and its important to offer a friendly smile as it can make a huge difference to their day!

Around noon, I assist ward staff with the lunch routine.  Supporting mealtimes is important as it's a time when having many helping hands is important. Before the meals arrive, I check patients are ready for their meal making sure bedside tables are de-cluttered and wiped down, hand out white aprons to patients and assist with the implementation of hand hygiene.   

When the meals arrive, I help dispense milk and juice and offer company to patients who require some support.

After lunch, I spend the rest of my shift talking to patients on a one to one basis and explore their personal interests, or offer comfort and reassurance if required. It's moving and enlightening to hear about their lives which are often long and complex.

I finish at 3 pm, it's a very enjoyable and fulfilling day.

As well as supporting the Brownlee unit, I often support the Volunteer Coordinator training and introducing new volunteers to other wards in Gartnavel General – medicine for the elderly. The Brownlee wards sits on its own, it’s refreshing to go visit other wards and see how patients are being cared for through therapeutic activities.  We have  introduced an activity box into the ward, this means I can play cards or dominoes and do a crossword or word search together.