“It’s a privilege to be in someone’s life at this stage of (their) life”.
We had the opportunity to sit down with three of our Namaste Care Volunteers, Neetu, Chris and Veronica, to learn about what they do as part of our Namaste Project, supporting people in the later stages of dementia 💜
“I began volunteering in November 2022. My daughter was completing some work experience at the Hospice and mentioned the project to me. I work 40 hours a week but still wanted to give back. I’m waiting to be matched up with a patient.
The Namaste team have been really helpful so far and have provided me with so much reassurance and training, I know that if I need help or support I’ll be able to get it.”
“I’ve been volunteering since 2017. I was attracted to the project and the word ‘Namaste’, it means to ‘honour the spirit within’ and that really appealed to me. It’s a privilege to be in someone’s life at this stage of (their) life. You really feel like you make a difference to their day.
Often our patients might be non-verbal, meaning they don’t speak very much or at all, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get reactions from them. Their eyes might move, or they’ll smile, you can see how they are from their facial expressions and body language. Learning about the person and their family is really important. They complete an ‘About Me’ book with staff before we go along to meet them and that helps us work out what they like and dislike.
One of the ladies I’ve done sessions with loved having her nails painted, so I’d go each week and incorporate that into the session – the more sparkly, the better! I learned that from watching her expressions as she would look at my nails. I asked her husband who told me ‘yes she loved to get her nails done’, so I thought ‘perfect, let’s try that in our next session’. She also loved rock music so we’d listen to a lot of her favourite music and poetry. She liked walks too, so we’d make an effort to get outside when we could.
I’m currently visiting someone in a care home for sessions once a week and the staff and the person’s family all say they can tell when I’ve been to visit. They say ‘that was a lovely visit, they know it’s you’.
We have supervision sessions with Hospice staff every other month, where all the volunteers meet up at the Hospice to share our experiences, chat through things and talk to staff. We might be struggling to find an activity which fits the person and we can work together to think of some new ideas, or have had a more challenging experience or something really positive happen which we want to talk about in the group.”
“I’ve been volunteering since November 2022. My background is in nursing, but you don’t have to have a clinical background to volunteer, you get lots of training and supervision from the team. If you’re kind, caring and friendly (and love to chat!) this might be for you. Namaste Care can be so uplifting, and both the person with advanced dementia and their carer can get so much out of the sessions.
Sometimes it’s just about giving the carer some time and space, they might go and pop the kettle on and be able to sit by themselves for a little while as I complete the session with their loved one. Chatting with the patient’s carer is just as important as the session with the patient.
With my patients, I’ve got to know them over the course of our time together and that helps me figure out what will work in the sessions. I’ve done things like play dominoes and snakes and ladders and given hand massages and shoulder massages.
I commit to two hours a week, per session, and see two people at the moment. Two hours isn’t really that much time out of my day, and I know it makes such a difference.
I’d say to anyone interested in learning more about volunteering with Namaste Care to have a chat with the team here at the Hospice to see if it might be something which could work for you.”
About Namaste Care:
Namaste Care is a person-centered therapeutic approach which aims to promote improved quality of life for people in the later stages of dementia. It does this by encouraging engagement in meaningful activities to provide enjoyment and comfort.
These activities may include:
💜 Offering gentle touch, for example through hand massage or hair brushing
💜Listening to favourite music
💜Reading favourite books and poems
💜Playing games such as dominoes
💜Encouraging gentle movement
Namaste Care is facilitated by trained volunteers and can be provided in the person’s own home or in some cases, in a group session.
Volunteering for the Namaste Care Service is an opportunity to make a real positive difference to people living with advanced dementia and their families.
Previous experience is not essential as training and ongoing supervision will be provided.
To learn more about becoming a Namaste Care Volunteer, please contact our Volunteer Coordinator by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or contacting the team on 0191 374 6169.