Retired university lecturer and nurse Tim Snashall decided to become a Healthwatch Lancashire volunteer to use the skills he gained in healthcare. After retiring the 63-year-old found he wanted to continue using his knowledge for the benefit of others so becoming a Healthwatch Lancashire was the perfect solution. Tim has been volunteering since 2013 and finds his expertise lies in being a PLACE (Patient Lead Assessment of the Care Environment) Assessor where he is tasked with assessing a hospital service to provide an annual snap shot that gives hospitals a clear picture of how their environment is seen by those using it, and how they can improve.
“You really feel like you are doing something useful,” added Tim. “I am interested in nursing care and quality and it is really fulfilling to know that your comments are heard and that they are taken on-board. What’s really important too is that the particular service you are assessing does want to work with you because they know it’s of benefit to everyone.”
“There are always different volunteering opportunities arising and I feel that we can make a difference because Healthwatch Lancashire is fast becoming a body that people listen to because they themselves listen to the public.”
“Healthwatch Lancashire is there to help and inform the people of Lancashire and it’s great to be a volunteer who is part of that process.”
Many Healthwatch Lancashire volunteers are either retired or work and volunteer in their spare time. Natalie Cotterell is somewhat different in that she actually works for Healthwatch Lancashire but also volunteers as well. Natalie, who lives in Leyland, began volunteering for Healthwatch Lancashire in October last year and was given a part-time employed position working with the volunteers this January. The 23-year-old graduated with a Psychology degree last year and wanted to gain experience that would complement her studies.
“Becoming a volunteer with Healthwatch Lancashire was a great way to start gaining experience following my studies and I absolutely love it,” she said. “My favourite aspect of volunteering is that I get to participate in training sessions which gives me opportunities to develop knowledge and new skills. “Because I work part-time I have spare time to do my volunteering of which there are lots of opportunities that arise all the time for volunteers.
“On average I volunteer four or five times a month and for me that mostly means doing PLACE Assessments (Patient Lead Assessment of the Care Environment) where you go into different healthcare settings observing the environment to ensure it is fit for purpose. “It’s great because I get to use the knowledge I already have but I am learning new skills all the time too and helping others. You really do feel that you are making a positive difference.
“I would definitely recommend that other people consider becoming volunteers because you can make a difference. We all need health and social care, it is there for all of us but it’s also important that those services are of the highest quality and by being a volunteer you can help ensure that they are.”
64-year-old Judith Daniels from Chorley has been a volunteer for Healthwatch Lancashire since August 2014. Judith, who is registered blind, is now retired but previously worked for Action for Blind People and the Royal Preston Hospital and said she decided to become a volunteer so she could give her input into how health and social care services in Lancashire are run.
She said: “The element of volunteering that interests me most is being a Mystery Shopper. I basically take a look at certain services, ask questions and then make reports on my findings.”
“It’s a great way of looking at how patients are treated and if things change for the better because of what you learn then that means other people benefit. It’s my opportunity to be the voice of other people and hopefully to make things better for them.”
“Healthwatch Lancashire really does have some clout and can make a difference when it’s necessary because people do listen to them and I am pleased to be a part of that.”