University Hospital Southampton NHS FT introduced a ‘Patient Support Hub’ for patients during the first wave of COID-19 who were either isolating or needed extra support before, during and after their care at UHS.
The programme has now grown into a wider support network to bring together volunteers and community providers to focus on patients’ wider needs.
The Hub, since launching, has taken more than 3,500 calls from patients asking for advice, help and support and 58 volunteers have given more than 330 hours of free service a week.
Funded by the Southampton Hospitals Charity, the National Lottery and NHS Charities Together – the charity for which Sir Captain Tom Moore raised over £33m – the project now offers services including delivery of food parcels and shopping, collection of prescriptions, befriending and signposting to other services in the community.
Emma Squires, Patient Support Hub lead at UHS, said: “What we are trying to do is help those who fall into the middle ground of being clinically well enough for discharge but who would benefit from a bit of extra practical and emotional support.
“That may include food parcels until they are back on their feet, an ear to listen and perhaps help to signpost to well-established community volunteering services that could help with longer-term support.”
Each week volunteers are in contact with patients with a range of needs, helping to ensure they are supported in their own homes following their discharge from hospital.
Annie Knight, from UHS volunteers, said the Hub had also been a boost for the volunteers of all ages – including many young people – who have contacted the hospital trust throughout the pandemic wanting to help.
She said: “This project has provided some really important opportunities for young people who have been particularly hard hit by the impact of the pandemic and it has been wonderful to see them step up and for us to enable them to do that.”