KIND-HEARTED hospital volunteers who spend time supporting patients at the end of their lives have scooped a national award.

The Voluntary Services Team from Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospital won the National Association of Voluntary Service Manager’s Excellence in Volunteer Management Award for its new End of Life Companion (EOLC) voluntary role.

EOLCs are volunteers who spend time supporting patients nearing and at the very end of their lives, along with their family and friends. The new role ensures patients have companionship when they need it most.

Those coming to the end of life while in hospital often find it helpful to talk through their fears and wishes and their friends and relatives often require support to come to terms with their loss. Making sure EOLCs are on hand and available, often at short notice, meant developing clear processes, making sure staff were aware of how to access the volunteers, and ensuring the EOLCs were well prepared for the range of situations they may face.

Rachel Bevan, head of patient experience and public engagement, said: “Our End of Life Companions are doing a very important job - helping us make sure we are looking after the emotional wellbeing of our patients and their loved ones, as well as their physical needs.

“There was a significant amount of work involved in organising the recruitment and training of the volunteers, as well as setting up a robust system to ensure the volunteers are alerted when they are needed, and supported afterwards. I could not be more proud of my team for making the project such a success. It was an honour to win the award and have our hard work, and the work of our volunteers, recognised on a national scale.”