This month we are pleased to interview Frankie Greenaway, a volunteer with a wonderful sense of humour and a very big heart. We put the following six questions to Frankie.
How long have you been volunteering for?
“I have been a volunteer for 4 years.”
Where are you currently volunteering?
“I do one morning a week at St John of God Hospital for the Geraldton Palliative Care Service.”
Please describe your volunteer role.
“My role is to assist the nurses in all personal care of the patients. Which can be showering, hot towel washing of patients in bed, help with toileting, or even just making beds. It’s amazing how much fun you can have making beds as patients love hearing us joking and laughing with them. Other tasks can be taking the patients for a walk, or wheelchair ride around the hospital or just sitting with them if they are alone and talking to them about their life and family. Another very important job is to care for the visiting family especially as their loved ones life is drawing to an end. Some might not have seen their Mum/Dad for a while and are a little apprehensive about going into the room. We ask them if they would like us to go with them. Once they are in the room and see that it is not frightening, they seem to be able to cope better.”
What do you enjoy about your volunteering?
“I enjoy everything about volunteering. I love working with Palliative Care nurses. They are so supportive. They never expect you to do anything that you might be uncomfortable with and they include you in the running of the ward. Robyn Ellis our Palliative Care coordinator is amazing and her monthly meeting to debrief and to discuss any concerns we may have ensures good communication.”
What is your most memorable volunteering experience and why?
“My most memorable experience is when I was with a beautiful lady as her beloved husband passed away.
He had only been diagnosed with cancer few weeks before he was hospitalized and so he was just coming to terms with it. His wife was with him the whole time he was in hospital. She didn’t want him to be alone when he died. We had just finished giving him a wash when we could see he was slipping away so we called her in and she kissed him and sat holding his hand as he died. I left her for a while so she could have some private time with him and after a while I went in to ask if I could do anything for her or just sit with her. She said she would like that. She didn’t want to start ringing the family just then. It was as though she just needed time to reflect. So I sat with her and her husband and she proceeded to tell me this beautiful love story of their life together. We just laughed and cried and talked. After an hour, or so, I could see she was feeling stronger and was ready to start ringing her family. I felt very privileged that this lovely lady trusted me enough to share all this with her. I will never forget it.”
What would you say to people who are thinking about volunteering?
“If you don’t mind interacting with sick people in an intimate way, providing personal care, have a great sense of humor and the greatest asset of all is to have a pair of good listening ears. If you have all of the above than we want you to be on our team, I can guarantee you will not find a more rewarding job then being a volunteer with Palliative Care.”
We would like to thank Frankie for this wonderful contribution, thank you Frankie!
We would also encourage community members who feel they have the qualities that Frankie describes with an interest in volunteering with Palliative Care to contact us here at Centacare Volunteer Services so we can refer you onto the Co-ordinator of this marvelous service