National volunteering organisation, Royal Voluntary Service is able to continue its vital Home from Hospital service at the Basingstoke and North Hampshire Hospital thanks to funding from everyday health company, Simplyhealth.

The service which has been running for two years, sees volunteers working alongside hospital teams to prepare older patients for discharge and providing up to six weeks of regular home visits to help them settle back in.

The Home from Hospital service in Basingstoke currently has around 20 volunteers, but more are now needed so the charity can take on a greater number of referrals and expand within the Test Valley.

Volunteers are required to help settle people back into their homes – providing companionship as well as practical support. This support will include helping to set goals for the individual over the period of the service, for instance, enabling them to walk around the block. Volunteers can assist with shopping or accompany individuals to the shops and provide mentoring to encourage clients to return to, or join, local clubs. Home from Hospital volunteers also promote the importance of nutrition and hydration for recovery.

Prior to its generous financial support in Basingstoke, Simplyhealth funded Royal Voluntary Service’s Home from Hospital service at the Great Western Hospital in Swindon for two years. This funding enabled hundreds of older people to make a smoother transition back into home life.

Laura Powell, Commissioned Services Operations Manager for South West England at Royal Voluntary Service said: “This is a really vital service for older people in the community and we are delighted to receive this funding from Simplyhealth. The funding will mean more older people will receive the support of a caring volunteer after a spell in hospital – which we know can make a huge difference. We thank the team at Simplyhealth for their generous support.”

“Volunteering for our Home from Hospital service makes a massive difference. Volunteers play a vital role in enabling older people to step back into their old life and reduce the likelihood of readmission. Our volunteers are fantastic and they really enjoy what they do; they get as much out of volunteering as they put in. This is an ideal opportunity if you want to make new friends, develop your skills and experience and help older people in the community get the best from life. Full training will be provided. ”

Roger Cotton, Head of Charitable Giving at Simplyhealth said: “We have seen first-hand the difference such a service can make to the everyday health of older people at the point of discharge. The support from the volunteers is fantastic and the expansion of this service will help even more people transition easily when returning home from hospital. We are very pleased and proud to provide this funding for the service in Basingstoke and look forward to continuing our work with Royal Voluntary Service.”

Alex Whitfield, Chief Executive at Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said: “At Hampshire Hospitals, we put a focus making sure patients are safe to return home as soon as it is right for them and their care needs, and when they have a suitable support network in place. The “Home from Hospital” programme really helps with this, particularly for older patients, who may not have friends and family close by or who may just need a little help getting back to normality. It also means patients are able to get home sooner, which is where they want to be. With volunteers providing that extra support and companionship when an older patient returns home, it can improve their health and wellbeing and reduce the chances of readmission.”

George Costain is 74 and lives alone in Basingstoke. He was admitted to hospital with a condition related to COPD, which he suffers from. He was referred to Royal Voluntary Service and matched with volunteer, Gayle Allington who has helped him get back into the way of home life after discharge. George says: “I have loved the visits from Gayle. She is a lovely lady and has done so much for me. Gayle has got me out and about and put me in touch with some clubs that I can go to now that I am feeling stronger. I am very grateful to Royal Voluntary Service for sending me this lady”.

Royal Voluntary Service has been inspiring and enabling people to give the gift of voluntary service to meet the needs of the day for 80 years. Today, that’s helping older people to stay healthy and happy and supporting the NHS. With an army of 25,000 volunteers, the charity provides support in the community, at home and in hospital.

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