SCHHS volunteers helping our patients ‘Better Together’

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Norm Sparkes, celebrating National Volunteer Week after 18 years of service.

Norm Sparkes, celebrating National Volunteer Week after 18 years of service.

National Volunteer Week (NVW), Australia’s largest annual celebration of volunteering, will be held from 16–22 May 2022.

This year’s theme ‘Better together’ recognises that volunteering brings people together to change communities for the better.  

Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service (SCHHS) has more than 260 active volunteers who contribute more than 4000 hours of their time each month. Volunteers include ‘Sunshiners’, Justices of the Peace (JPs) and Hospital Chaplains.

Norm Sparkes has volunteered at Nambour General Hospital for 18 years, making him the longest-serving volunteer with the SCHHS.

Mr Sparkes said there wasn’t a coordinated volunteer service when he was looking for something to do after retiring.

“I just went in and said I’m here as a volunteer and if there is anything I can do, I’d be happy to help.

“Back then we were on paper and I helped prepare the medical records folders; I folded clean gowns, guided people around and just did a lot of smaller jobs.

“If you’ve got time to give, then why not? You might only be there for a few hours, but you can make such a difference to a person’s life.”

Mr Sparkes said ‘frequent flyers’ appreciate seeing a familiar and friendly face.

“There was a lady who came regularly to oncology and she would send her driver in to look for me so I could get a wheelchair and take her in. She didn’t want the wardie, she wanted me.

“It makes you feel good when people appreciate you like that.”

Acting SCHHS Senior Coordinator of Volunteer Services Angela Drew said highly valued volunteers play a vital role in keeping the health service running smoothly.

“They are often the first people visitors encounter at the hospital; they provide practical assistance as well as emotional support and comfort,” Ms Drew said.

“Volunteers work alongside medical practitioners, assist nurses and help families on what can be an emotional and tiring journey.

“I would encourage any potential volunteers to consider joining our team,” Ms Drew said.

SCHHS volunteers don’t require any formal qualifications, just a friendly disposition and a willingness to learn, as well as a basic level of fitness.

This National Volunteer Week we say thank you to all the tireless volunteers across our health service who give their time to help others.