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Friday 22 March 2019
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Dining Companions
Roger Holt, Dining Companion Volunteer, Lucy Boulter, Volunteer Coordinator and Project Manager, Michelle Hindle, Volunteer Administrator and Frances Silcock, Welcome Volunteer

Funding boost for Dining Companions

A scheme that supports patients at mealtimes is being used as a blueprint to benefit patients at other NHS Trusts around the country.


The Dining Companions scheme was launched at Salford Royal in 2018 as a pilot on Ward L5 to support patients who need extra support at mealtimes. Volunteers can help feed patients, assist with opening food sachets or simply offer companionship.


Now, the scheme has been given a £75,000 NHS England grant as part of a Volunteering Innovators Programme to develop and expand across the rest of the hospital and it will also be rolled out to the other hospitals in the Northern Care Alliance NHS Group.


Helpforce, the organisation working with hospitals to enhance the benefits of volunteering across the NHS, will work with the Trust to refine and share the project to help other Trusts in the UK adopt effective volunteer services.


The idea for Dining Companions came from long-serving volunteer Frances Silcock, whose husband had passed away, and Lucy Boulter, Volunteer Co-ordinator and project manager.


Lucy said: “We are delighted to have been chosen as one of the 12 hospital Trusts that Helpforce will work with over the next 18 months. We are looking forward to working in partnership with Helpforce and other NHS Trusts as we believe we can make a huge difference in the quality of care we provide and the overall experiences of our patients and the community.


“This is a valuable opportunity for shared learning and to pull all of our resources and experience together to create high impact, volunteer roles, which will help to shape volunteering in the NHS for the future.”


The Volunteering Innovators Programme launches alongside the publication of new Helpforce findings showing the positive impact that volunteers can make for patients and staff. The findings show volunteers can free up time for NHS staff to focus on their core roles, support vulnerable patients at mealtimes, and how they can assist with the patient discharge process.