GWH volunteers show they're a cut above

Posted: August 13, 2018

Mother and son duo provide warm welcome on the ward

Jill and Paul Jenkins 250A Swindon mother and son have been finding their own way to come to terms with the loss of their husband and father by volunteering on the Great Western Hospital ward where he died.
 
Jill Jenkins, who was married to Brian, a former Olympic swimmer, for 53 years, and their son Paul, have been volunteering on Mercury Ward for more than six months after Brian sadly passed away at Christmas.
 
Jill said: "Brian was in hospital for seven weeks before he died on Christmas Eve. Paul and I had spent so much time on the ward that we realised we just wanted to help.
 
"I could have just stayed in a corner of a room at home and cried my heart out every day and be depressed, or I could channel my pain of losing my husband and sweetheart by being involved in a ward which has looked after my husband so well. This is my way of grieving, and saying thanks."
 
And Paul, a freelance hairdresser, has been cheering up poorly patients by giving them some much needed pampering on the ward.
 
He said: "I'll give them a haircut, a wet shave, a colour, a blowdry, even soak their feet in some warm water. I bring all the kit with me, so they can feel pampered.
 
"It's the sort of thing that makes everybody smile. I get to know the patients really well and my aim is to make people feel comfortable when they are poorly.
 
"I don't charge anything for the service, but anyone who wants to give me money I'll put it in a pot for Brighter Futures."
 
One patient on the ward said: "Paul has such a passion for giving back. It's just like being at the barber's at the side of your hospital bed. It makes you feel better and it's such a great service, I think all the patients here should have it!"
 
Jill regularly comes in on Mondays and Tuesdays, while Paul will often visit at night or sometimes early in the morning, whenever he can spare a few hours.
 
Jill said: "Everyone thinks of me and Paul as our own little team and I feel so proud to be able to help. I'll make beds, take the tea trolley round, go to Pharmacy to get prescriptions, take patients to x-ray and talk them through what's on the menu so they can make their meal choices for the day."
 
It's not just the patients who appreciate them, either. Andrea Plumb, Senior Sister on Mercury Ward, said: "Paul and Jill are so kind. They bring so much kindness, compassion and understanding to our patients. They are always there with a listening ear, friendly chat and would do anything for anyone.

 "I would like to thank them so much for what they are doing for our patients on the ward."

Dr Beas Bhattacharya, Diabetes and Endocrinology Consultant, said: "I had been Brian Jenkins' physician for some time and always appreciated his zeal for life and sporting spirit in fighting against all odds, which was equally humbling and inspiring.
 
"So, it was a personal loss when he sadly passed away and to see that spirit carried forward with equal kindness and humility by Jill and Paul, not only brings a tear to our eyes, it also taught us how to change adversity to positivity and optimism."
 
The Voluntary Services team at GWH works hard to help over 350 people of all ages and backgrounds to volunteer at the hospital.

Carol Orrow, Voluntary Services Manager for the Trust, said: "The Voluntary Services Team at GWH has an army of nearly 400 Jills and Pauls. They range in age from 16 to 93 and can be found in 59 different placement areas around the GWH and our community sites.

"We would be keen to have other volunteers willing to 'pamper' our patients, as Paul does, so if you are interested, please e-mail us at gwh.voluntary.services@nhs.net."
 
Paul added: "Before coming here I didn't even realise there was even such a thing as a hospital volunteer. I just wish more people would volunteer - the NHS is such a national treasure."
   

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