VOLUNTEERS at Peninsula Health’s Assistance and Care in Emergency program (ACE) are celebrating a decade of providing support to patients and families during what is always a difficult time – a trip to the emergency department.
A volunteers’ appreciation lunch was held last week as a part of National Volunteers Week.
About 750 volunteers assist at Peninsula Health – with 100 in the ACE program.
“Volunteers come from different walks of life but they all share the common goal of wanting to help others,” Peninsula Health volunteer program manager Helen Wilson said.
“It can be really amazing because you get all sorts of people, young and old, working together and developing strong friendships.”
Nursing student Meg Ridley, 20, had no idea about the ACE program until she walked into Frankston Hospital’s emergency department and asked a nurse how she could help. “It’s been even more rewarding than I expected,” she said.
“I’m younger than most of the other volunteers but the ladies at Frankston are so much fun. We often go out for lunch together.
“Supporting people in serious cases can be really hard, but half the time it’s as simple as just being there for them. Lots of parents appreciate our help too; they can have a quick toilet break or move the car while we play with the kids.
“As a nursing student who’s worked in Emergency before, I know how busy emergency staff are. I know they would love to provide that extra support but it’s just not possible, that’s why ACE is so important.”
Retiree Dilys Yap has been an ACE volunteer at Rosebud Hospital’s emergency department since the program launched. “I saw an ad in the paper for volunteers and thought I’d give it a go,” he said. “When I first came on I wondered what on earth I would do.
“On one of my first shifts I went over to a couple who seemed very distressed and, after a brief chat, found out the husband was worried because he’d left the heater on at home. I promised to stay with his sick wife while he went to turn it off.
“We had a long, calm chat and when the nurse came to check her blood pressure it had gone from very high to normal. I knew then that what I was doing was important.
“People sometimes say we should be getting paid but I don’t think they get it, our work is its own reward.”