SOUTH BUCKS HOSPICE

South Bucks Hospice is a leading community resource for supporting patients living with life-limiting or life-threatening illnesses. The Hospice is run by a mixture of highly skilled staff, volunteers and trustees. Michael Cole explains how Community Impact Bucks (CIB) has helped him in his role as volunteer co-ordinator.

What did South Bucks Hospice need? When Michael started in his role as volunteer co-ordinator he was looking for some way to check whether what the Hospice was doing with regard to its volunteers was correct. He had been trying to find some kind of advisory board when he came across Community Impact Bucks. He was looking at the Hospice’s existing procedures to find out whether they were right and if they could be improved in any way.

What support did CIB offer? Michael attended one of CIB’s one-to-one advice sessions in Amersham where he explained the set-up of the hospice, the part that volunteers play and what the systems for managing volunteers were at that time.

During that meeting Michael was reassured to hear that the Hospice’s procedures were right but, as he suspected there were areas that could be improved. For example, volunteer supervisors were being referred to as line managers, which conveyed a different kind of relationship relevant to paid employment. Now, picking up on CIB’s suggestion, Michael is now using the more accurate ‘volunteer supervisor’, which sits very well with everyone involved.

Addressing specific issues: Michael also wanted CIB’s advice on two problem areas. One was that not many of the volunteers were able to speak confidently about all the work of the Hospice if a member of the public asked them about it.

After talking through these issues with CIB’s Lead for Volunteering, Hazel Finney, Michael has now introduced a much more formal induction process for all volunteers which includes material on what the Hospice does and how it is funded. He also ensures that existing volunteers have the same level of understanding by giving them what he calls a ‘back pocket brief’ which enables all volunteers to tell anyone interested all about the work of the Hospice and how it is paid for.

The other issue was in relation to feedback and updates provided to volunteers. Once a volunteer has gone through the induction process, which Michael handles himself, the ongoing relationship is primarily one between the volunteer and the Hospice staff member who is their volunteer supervisor. Picking up on advice from Hazel, Michael got all the volunteer supervisors together to discuss how they could become more actively involved with the volunteers, and Michael is currently working with them on how best to manage feedback to them. This is particularly important if a volunteer is not performing well in some way.

Accreditation: Michael met with CIB again about looking ahead to Investing in Volunteers accreditation for the Hospice – being subject to formal evaluation by independent assessors. CIB provided Michael with a checklist of the areas that the accrediting body (NVCO) would look at. After going through that checklist, Michael is confident that by early 2020, he will be able to recommend to the Board of Trustees that the Hospice should seek accreditation. He does however say “I will be asking CIB for another health check on our procedures and systems before finally pressing forward with accreditation.”

Summing it all up: In Michael’s own words: “I see CIB as an organisation which provides very good knowledgeable advice across a great range of fields. For me it has been all about volunteering and the support I’ve got on that has been brilliant. CIB is my go-to place for advice on volunteering”.

For more information on South Bucks Hospice see their website. South Bucks Hospice is still in need of further volunteers with all different types of skills and from all walks of life. To see whether volunteering at South Bucks Hospice is for you, please contact Michael Cole at volunteers@sbhospice.org.uk or call 01494 552764.

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