As a cornerstone of the community, Grove House regularly hosts student placements for pupils considering medicine as a career. Like all volunteer roles at Rennie Grove, the arrangement is of mutual benefit to the charity and the volunteer. We look at how the symbiotic charity-volunteer relationship can be of even greater benefit than either party realises at the outset.
Local girl, Louise Taylor, is one of the prospective medics who has taken up a similar offer in the past. Originally from St Albans, Louise graduated last year from Oxford University with a degree in Biomedical Sciences. A year on, aged 23, she has embarked on her postgraduate degree in medicine at University College London. In between, she spent several months volunteering with the Day Hospice team at Grove House.
Louise said: “I have learnt some incredibly valuable life lessons and communication skills from staff and volunteers whilst I have been with Rennie Grove. It has been wonderfully interesting and fulfilling being a part of the volunteering team in the Day Hospice and I have truly treasured my time at Grove House. From a personal perspective, I have had my eyes opened: not only to what a haven the Day Hospice is, but also to the interaction with people who are facing great challenges. These are skills which are so important for working in health care and also life in general; I hope that in the long-term my experiences at Grove House will make me a better doctor and also a better person.”
Rennie Grove’s Director of Nursing, Sue Varvel, explained: “It’s important for future doctors to understand the role of hospice care for patients with life-limiting illness. At Rennie Grove we are in the privileged position of caring for patients at many different stages of their journeys with cancer and other conditions, so students can learn a great deal in a short space of time with us.”
Rennie Grove’s Day Hospice patients have vastly differing disease profiles and prognoses. But the common theme uniting them is that they all benefit from the peer support and clinical care they receive there. Sue added: “Irrespective of a person’s diagnosis, Day Hospice can help them to have a good quality of life. Clinical interventions like medication reviews and coping strategies such as fatigue management help to keep patients at home and out of hospital. It’s useful for would-be medics to witness how this works first hand.”
Working with Rennie Grove made such an impact on Louise that she continues to cover volunteer holidays during her own breaks from study. She also signed up to help the charity’s Fundraising Team – both in the office and out and about at events. Not content with that, she introduced her friend, Iona, to the charity. The friends also volunteer with Sue Varvel on a clinical project to understand the working capacity of the charity’s community nursing teams, which will enable the organisation to plan more effectively to meet future demands for its services.
Sue said: “It’s great to have fresh ideas and new input to this project. Louise has also introduced us to colleagues at Virgin Care, who deliver NHS and social care services across the UK, and we’re looking to work together in the future. Her involvement has been invaluable so I’m glad we have helped to set her up in what I’m sure will be a very successful medical career.”
Find out more about volunteering at Rennie Grove.