THE British Red Cross is calling on people to volunteer for a ‘Home from Hospital’ service in the region.

Working in partnership with HelpForce, a new Community Interest Company which aims to maximise the potential of volunteering to make more time for care, the service will see volunteers make home visits to those who need extra help after a stay at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, in Gateshead, enabling them to manage independently again, and reducing the risk of them being readmitted.

The service, which is supported by funding from the Garfield Weston Foundation, provides up to six weeks of support at home to eligible patients upon discharge from hospital.

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Volunteers can give anything from a just a few hours a week, and full training will be provided.

The Red Cross offers a range of independent living services across over 100 hospitals in the UK, including the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. Red Cross operations manager for independent living in the North of England April Baskind said: “No one wants to stay in hospital longer than they need to – but many people can’t go home because it isn’t safe for them to do so, often because there isn’t enough care and support available. Having our services available in hospitals means we’re on hand to help people get home as soon as it’s medically safe for them to do so. But in order to do this we need volunteers who can help. If you live locally and have some time to spare, your contribution could make all the difference.”

Paddy Hanrahan, managing director of HelpForce, said: “HelpForce is very excited by the opportunity to work with Queen Elizabeth Gateshead and British Red Cross on introducing the Home from Hospital project. The ‘hospital to home’ experience is a crucial step in the patient’s journey. It is a key point where we need the NHS, voluntary services and the local community working in partnership, to help people to get back to their home.

“We commence this project at the start of the year of the NHS 70th birthday, when the role of volunteers and the voluntary sector will be highlighted and celebrated. With this project we aim to showcase the value that the NHS working with in partnership with voluntary services can bring to the local community. Ian Renwick, chief executive of Gateshead Health NHS Foundation Trust said:

“This innovative scheme will help provide support to NHS services at a time when they’re under the most pressure. Our current volunteers already provide an amazing service right across the hospital and we know how valuable their assistance is to our clinical teams.

“Volunteers can offer a service that helps take the pressure off hospital staff and allows clinical teams to focus on the medical part of their role. We also hope that this new service will help us discharge those patients who are ready to leave and want to get home but need that extra bit of support to ensure that happens.”

To get involved, telephone 0191-273-796. or email GatesheadHfH@redcross.org.uk