Award-winning hospital volunteer Clare Hood: “At last I have my dream job”
Clare Hood only began at The James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough in February but she’s made such an impact that South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has named her its volunteer of the year.
She was nominated for a Star award by a number of staff who said that from day one she’s shown dedication and developed excellent relationships with patients.
Cathy Brammer, clinical matron for children and young people, said: “As a volunteer she brings so much to the ward team and her outgoing personality and caring nature make her extremely popular with patients, families and staff.”
From helping in the playroom to rocking babies off to sleep, as a therapeutic care volunteer Clare is now an indispensable part of the team on ward 21.“I absolutely love it and I’ve never been happier, I’m unable to have children so when I asked if I could go to paediatrics I was thrilled to be placed there,” she explained.
“When I was told I’d won the award I was completely overwhelmed. I was away when the award ceremony took place so a presentation was held for me in the playroom. I was presented with the award by Trust chairman, Deborah Jenkins, and one of the little boys on the ward gave me flowers which was amazing, I was over the moon. To think that out of all the volunteers they picked me was a huge honour.
“I would say to anyone who’s interested in becoming a hospital volunteer to just go for it and apply.”
There are 320 volunteers across the trust including people with physical and learning disabilities who provide a priceless role, enhancing services provided by staff.
The recruitment process is managed in stages and includes completing a volunteer application form DBS check, interview, and occupational health checks and finally a Trust induction day. Volunteers, who must be over 16, are asked to give at least two hours each week.
Clare had always wanted to be a nurse but, as she was born with spina bifida and has always been in a wheelchair, knew that would not be possible.
Employed as an administrative assistant for 25 years, at Middlesbrough Council and latterly with a major social housing provider, Clare has always been determined not to let her disabilities define her.
She is also no stranger to hospitals herself, having an ileostomy bag since she was five she had to be admitted after contracting several infections.
“I think children like me because I’m the same height as them so they can relate to me and they think of me as an equal,” added Clare, 46 and from Middlesbrough, who’s hoping to increase her volunteering days from two to three each week.“It is a real privilege to be given the opportunity to fulfil my lifelong ambition of working with children and the voluntary scheme has made this possible – I finally have my dream job.”
“I appreciated the visits from volunteers when I was a patient as it was nice to see a friendly face when visiting time was over.
“One of the girls I really bonded with had suffered a spinal injury. I could tell her that although she thought being in a wheelchair was the end of the world now she would still be able to achieve great things in her life.”
Volunteering opportunities at South Tees Hospitals Foundation Trust are available at:
- The James Cook University Hospital
- Friarage Hospital, Northallerton
- Friary Hospital, Richmond
- Lambert Memorial Hospital, Thirsk
- Redcar Primary Care Hospital
- Guisborough primary Care Hospital
- East Cleveland Primary Care Hospital (Brotton)
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