A Day In The Life Of A Hospital Visitor

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I met with Thelma Manning, the co-coordinator for HELP Murcia Mar Menor’s volunteer hospital visitors in the main entrance of the new Los Arcos hospital just off the AP7. We went up to the general ward, walking all the way along the third floor asking at each station if there are any English-speaking patients there. The staff have got used to the hospital visitors coming in and are friendly and helpful. Hospital visitors are identified with a badge with their photo on and a certificate signed by the hospital Director which allows them to visit patients. We found an elderly lady who was very ill surrounded by her family. Thelma offered help but didn’t interrupt their time together. Patients and their families have been pleasantly surprised by the visits and enormously grateful. On one occasion there were 14 English-speaking patients to visit which took the two visitors quite a while but was very fulfilling. They see how patients are managing and, if a translator is required, they inform them of the procedure. Magazines are distributed, as patients prefer them to books. There is a shortage of men’s magazines for the male patients (not the ones from the top shelf!). They also have Spanish magazines so that if patients share a room with a Spanish person they can be offered magazines as well. If patients are sleeping they leave a note asking them to ring if there is anything they need. It is important not to tire patients out or wake them up, as sleep and rest are so important. Although they don’t ask people what they have wrong with them, often patients tell them what they are in hospital for, and if they are suffering from cancer they are offered a MABS leaflet. A lot of people come out of hospital unable to walk and are offered mobility equipment for loan, and can be put in touch with other sources of assistance. Patients are visited twice a week, usually Tuesdays and Thursdays or Fridays as, if a person is admitted at the weekend and surgery takes place on a Monday, Tuesday is a good time to visit to ascertain individual needs. The visitors approach the patients, say they are from HELP M.M.M. and ask if there is anything that they can do for them. Many people have nobody to visit them; they may live alone in Spain or may have been taken off a plane with, for example, a stroke, and they are always pleased to hear an English voice. Another day this week there was a young man who was a professional motorbike stunt rider and unfortunately had broken his back. He was only too happy to open up his laptop to show the visitors some stunts he had performed in the past! He insisted, when recovered, he would continue with the stunts! Then there was a lady who had lost her balance whilst putting on her trousers, fell on to the tiled floor and fractured her spine. She will have to wear a special corset when she leaves the hospital. . There is a free translation service in the hospital. You go to the desk wherever your appointment is with your appointment slip, and ask them if you can have a translator. Sometimes they say you don’t need one as the doctor speaks English. Hospital visitors can also put patients in contact with the hospital’s Social Services. There is a social worker at Los Arcos, who can help patients and their families with information and referral where necessary to other departments, if assistance is needed, and can be contacted via the patient’s nurse or doctor or directly by phone on 968565009 or internally on ext 970031. They are located at the Patients’ Service office at the main entrance from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday to Friday except for bank holidays. Thelma would like to hear from anyone willing to join the team and particularly from gentlemen, so that male patients can feel more at ease. The only qualification needed is to like people, have a sympathetic ear and common-sense. If you are interested please call the office on 968570059 and leave your contact details. Why not come and join them? They are a friendly bunch and will make you welcome and you will be doing something rewarding and enlightening. You come away feeling that you have really helped and brightened someone’s day as well as your own.


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