"Pam: 'Meet and Greet' volunteer"

About: Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust

(as a staff member),

Earlier last year a carer told us about a way we could improve people’s experience when they attend one of our Memory Assessment Service (MAS) clinics, saying, ‘It would be nice to have someone who understood the fears people may have when they come for their memory test for the first time, someone who would greet you with a smile, sit with you while you’re waiting, maybe make you a cup of tea, a person who knows what it’s like from mine or my relatives side’

Hearing this we started to explore within our MAS services the thought of having some Meet and Greet volunteer opportunities and staff, service users and carers gave this idea a big thumb’s up.

27th September 2011, we welcomed Pamela our first volunteer into this role.

Pamela keeps a diary about her volunteering role, moreover her experience. She has given her permission for me to share her experience so far with you, along with hope that when other service users or carers read about her experience it may encourage them to volunteer too.

Pamela’s experience captured in her diary

Tuesday 27. 9. 11

Today was my induction day. I am a lady who has been diagnosed with vascular dementia, so to be able to get this volunteering post, I feel very humble and grateful for this opportunity.

When I was first diagnosed it was a shock, and I thought there was only me out there with this condition, and also because of my age. Dementia is often linked with the elderly, not people of my age.

But I have since found out that there are people and places to go, which have helped me tremendously to face up to my diagnosis.

I now have a support worker, workplace buddyand mentor, so I know there will always be someone there on the end of the phone for me.

My induction was great. After the initial nerves calmed down – I really enjoyed myself.

All the people I met were very kind and helpful, I’m really looking forward to my role as a volunteer, and I hope Ican give back just what I have been given.

Tuesday 4. 10. 11

Today I actually started my role as a volunteer “Meet and Greet” at the Memory Clinic in Lancaster. I only met one patient and his wife, a very nice couple. I offered them a drink – but they declined.

Next I started on the service user and carer information board. Trying to put the information into some sort of order, removing some of the out of date information along with made up some files

Altogether and enjoyable morning, looking forward to going again next week

Tuesday 11. 10. 11

Back to do my volunteering role. Enjoyed it very much today, met a few more patients. I also started new files, sorting through the box of paper work, and putting it all in the same files, as it was all mixed up - a slow tedious job, but I’ve enjoyed doing it. There is no rush to do it; it is a job I can pick up whenever I have some spare time between patients.

Tuesday 18. 10. 11

Been today in the front office with Jen, Jo arrived too, more patients today and more interaction, which was really good.

One lady had a cup of tea and a lovely chat. Hopefully I put her at ease, sorted some more papers from my box.

I’m with Jo next week as Jen’s on holiday. Enjoying this role tremendously

Tuesday 25. 10. 11

Back again, more interaction. Each week I’m feeling more relaxed and comfortable, Ploughing through my box of papers, never ending but still enjoying myself.

By doing this role, I feel quite good about myself, and it’s made me feel needed, it’s given new meaning to my life – I have something worthwhile to get up for on Tuesday morning.

Jo is really nice and makes me feel relaxed. But generally, everyone has been nice to me

July 2012 - Pamela was nominated for the Trusts ‘Service User Award for Volunteering Excellence’, which she, along with another Service user, won in this category.

Pamela is very modest about her achievements, especially how she helps improve someone’s experience when they visit the memory clinic for the first time as well as any follow up clinics.

Everyone who meets Pamela feel she is an inspirational, shining star.

Pam volunteers twice a week, meeting and greeting patients, their relatives/carers as they arrive and wait for their clinic appointment, her time is spent sitting with and talking to them, helping them feel at ease (always with a cup of tea).

Pam is able to do this by sharing her own personal experience of when she was diagnosed with vascular dementia and how it impacts into her day to day living and future wellbeing.

People are always amazed when Pam shares her experiences; one relative said to her husband “You see there is life after diagnosis”.

Pam loves her volunteering role she says; it helps her feel good about herself, gives her something to get up for in the mornings, more over it helps her help others recognise they are not alone with this condition, even when you’re the same age as her (fifties).

The staff have embraced Pam into their team, and when you ask them about Pam and her role, they all say Pam is worth her weight in gold and moreover!

For more about Pam’s story please see the Lancashire Care website at:

http: //www. lancashirecare. nhs. uk/be-involved/Volunteering-Services/Volunteer_Video. php

Do you have a similar story to tell? Tell your story & make a difference ››


Response from Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust

Thank you so much for sharing your very personal experiences, volunteers play such a valuable role within the Trust and bring a wealth of experience and skills to the volunteering posts they hold. I don’t think Pam realises what a difference she has made to the service and how much she has helped people who access the service. By sharing her story, she demonstrates that individuals can live life to the full after a diagnosis.

Thank you Pam,

Debbie Foord

Service Improvement Manager

Adult Community Network