A new service which includes making cups of tea and giving patients lifts home has been introduced at Kettering General Hospital to help improve older people's experience during busy times.
The Age UK Northamptonshire Support Service is a team of 14 paid support workers and a co-ordinator stationed in the hospital’s A&E department, main ward blocks and discharge lounge.
The team will help patients with tasks ranging from getting cups of tea, filling in forms and providing activities for dementia patients, to taking people home in Age UK Northamptonshire minibuses and checking they have everything they need.
Jade White, who started work at KGH as a support worker last week, said: "I previously worked as a housekeeper at KGH and as a domiciliary worker and this new role seemed a great opportunity to spend more time helping patients – which is what I enjoy the most.
"Some of the older people you meet don’t have anyone and so they really appreciate that you have got time to talk to them, to bring them a cup of tea, and just be someone who is there for them."
One of Jade’s patients, Marion Frost, from Corby, said: "I think this is a great idea. You see some of the older patients on the ward who get quite lonely if they don’t have a lot of family.
"Having someone there to bring them a cup of tea and have a chat is just great."
The support workers will wear bright yellow polo neck shirts and will be on duty at the hospital’s busiest times, seven days a week.
Age UK Northamptonshire's business development director, Sue Watts, said: "Coming into hospital can be a traumatic and confusing experience for some older people.
"Just having someone there who can spend time with you, provide some reassurance, who can hold your hand, who can get you a cup of tea, can make all the difference.
"Our support workers will be able to give patients that extra bit of time and support that busy clinical staff sometimes cannot provide straight away.
"We can also attend to some practical matters. For example, we can source walking frames for people with mobility issues and we have two adapted mini-buses so that we can help take people home from hospital and settle them in once they are at home.
"These sorts of things can help prevent unnecessary admissions to hospital and also help speed up the discharge process for more vulnerable patients."
A £65,000 investment from the hospital's trust's charitable funds committee helped launch the scheme, which is a six-month pilot.
The funding will be taken on by the trust after the trial period.
Kettering General Hospital’s chief operating officer, Jo Fawcus, said: "We are sure the new initiative will provide an invaluable additional dimension to the care our staff, and our dedicated volunteers, provide for our patients.
“It will help us to discharge appropriate patients from A&E, from the wards and support the discharge lounge team.
“The support workers will also help patients living with dementia by doing simple things like doing a jigsaw puzzle with them while ward staff get on with their clinical duties."