Lorna Breckell, Family & Volunteer Service Manager – Rampton Hospital
Due to the national pandemic, the training for the volunteer befrienders at Rampton hospital had been put on hold since March 2020. Traditionally, all new volunteers would attend full 3 days induction. Our ongoing volunteers would attend a full day refresher training every 2 years. The training covers subjects that are relevant to the role of being a befriender to patients’ resident at a high secure hospital. (Including; Safeguarding, security awareness, boundaries, information governance, equality and diversity, role of the befriender etc)
In November-December 2020, as we were going into another national lockdown, we made the decision to move volunteer training to a virtual basis, to ensure that both our new volunteers and current volunteers gain and maintain the knowledge and skills required for the role.
Since then, we have fully inducted 4 new volunteer befrienders to the service, they now act as penpals to matched patients and we are hosting supported virtual visits in the next few weeks with the view that when the hospital reopens to on-site visits that they will already have an established befriending relationship.
We have also hosted virtual training via MS Teams for current volunteers (some of whom have been volunteering at the hospital for 20 years!). Kirsty Johnson a Security Liaison Manager presented a revised Rampton security update and we played newly devised ‘What IF!’ game which explores personal boundaries and good practice. On that training, we also encouraged volunteers to access the NHS Heath Education England e-training. To work towards a Volunteer passport and a National Volunteer Certificate.
Due to the success of this training, we are now looking to modify how we train our volunteers in future with a mixture of e-training courses, physical peer support sessions and training delivered via MS Teams. However, we are aware of the importance of face to face contact so will ensure we continue to offer a more specific and regular peer support sessions to enable volunteers to have time together.
Below are some feedback comments from current befrienders who recently attended our MS Teams training sessions.
‘I enjoyed the training and I think we covered the necessities, but I have to say I did miss the normal refresher training. Obviously, I understand we couldn’t do that because of Covid but if things were ever to go back to normal, I think I’d prefer to come in and have the day in the hospital like we did before and have cups of tea and chat to everyone.’
‘I thought the virtual training worked very well and preferred it over the classroom. It was just more convenient as Teams allows you to attend from almost anywhere and having several days/times available was helpful so i could fit it around work and home life. The slide format was clear, relevant and I liked the different styles of everyone presenting, it mixed things up a little. I also like that the training is to become more formal through the learning portal, it just helps me know what I’m supposed to know and I can access other learning modules for volunteering if i want. It may because all volunteers are nice people but I found it a good open session, where discussion was encouraged.’