Hospital visitors and volunteers help to reduce nursing workloads, survey finds

Nurses believe a lack of visitors is often detrimental to a patients’ health and speed of recovery.

Chloe Dawson
13 September 2019
Patient with visitor in hospitla bed

Two in five hospital patients get no visitors and require additional support from the nursing team.

Nurses working in acute hospitals feel that patients without visitors require additional support from the nursing team, according to a survey by the Royal Voluntary Service (RVS).

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The survey also revealed that nurses believe a lack of visitors is often detrimental to a patients’ health and speed of recovery in a number of ways. These include; they are less likely to be mobile (43%), less likely to be stimulated through conversation (56%) and less likely to follow medical advice.

It is also estimated that around 37% are more likely to have a longer stay in hospital.

The RVS states that volunteers can step in and play a “vital role” in helping to reduce the nursing workload and freeing up staff for clinical care.

Over half of the NHS nurses questioned said a volunteer presence on ward was very important and that volunteers could help with patient care in a variety of ways. In particular, they referenced; providing non-medical support and assisting at mealtimes.

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Double the number of volunteers in the next ten years.

Previous research published in a Kings Fund report also found strong support for volunteering among frontline staff.

With approximately 40,000 unfilled nursing vacancies throughout the NHS in England, volunteers are becoming more important to ensure patient receive care in a timely manner.

Following the NHS Long Term plan asking hospitals to double their volunteers in the next ten years and the recognition of the help they can provide by the NHS nursing team, RVS is calling on more hospitals to make the most of volunteers to improve patient health.

Sam Ward, Director of Commissioned Services for the RVS, said; “With results showing two-fifths of patients may not see a visitor during their hospital stay, it is clear that more is needed to be done to support them.

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“Volunteers offer a professional support service, encouraging mental stimulation, physical activity, and more that can play a significant role in both mental and physical recovery.

“It is vital that hospitals work together with volunteer service providers to make sure that patients across the country are able to access this support.”

 

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