GRH Emergency Department partners with Gloucestershire Samaritans

11 Aug 2022, 4:27 p.m.

The Emergency Department (ED) at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital is beginning a partnership with volunteers from Gloucestershire branches of Samaritans this month.

A busy ED might be the last place that people expect to see a Samaritan but from 11 August, volunteers will be on hand every fortnight to listen to those who want to talk. The experienced listening volunteers are drawn from both Gloucester and Cheltenham Samaritans branches.

Dr Faye Noble, Consultant in Emergency Medicine and departmental Mental Health lead has spearheaded the project. Faye says: “I believe that the service offered by the Samaritans will be a fantastic support for both patients and staff. Having a friendly face on hand from volunteers who are experienced at sitting down and really listening will benefit everyone in our high-intensity environment.

ED Patient Experience Lead Joel Bonner adds: “Having the Samaritans in the department will add another layer of holistic care for patients presenting to the emergency department. The extra emotional support they will provide will be vital to staff and patients and will undeniably help improve the patient experience.”

Sally Hayes, Deputy Divisional Director Quality and Nursing for Unscheduled Care at the Trust commented: “Although our team here in the ED are trained to care for the whole patient, not just their physical injury or illness, the presence of these Samaritans volunteers will add a new dimension to patient care. The emotional support that they provide will also allow our staff to focus on their very busy clinical roles.

Working in the hospital environment is very different to the usual Samaritans setting but the volunteers will offer the same compassionate listening service as they do on the phone lines and via email.

Andy Goddard, a director at Cheltenham and District Samaritans said: “Samaritans are trained to provide non-judgemental listening support to anyone who is struggling to cope. People who find themselves in A&E may feel distressed for many different reasons and we hope that by listening and being there, we can support them during their time in the department.”

Susan Raftree, Branch Director, Gloucester and District Samaritans explains: “The group of volunteers will be running this service will be doing this in addition to their commitment to their weekly shifts in our branches. Our aim is to offer emotional support to patients and staff while not getting in the way of the vital work of hospital staff.”

The new listening service will be provided on Thursday evenings every fortnight initially and closely evaluated by both parties in the early stages. It is designed to complement the work of Gloucestershire Health and Care Trust’s Mental Health Liaison team who work on site and in the department to provide mental health support across the hospitals.

Faye concludes, “Like hospitals around the country, Emergency Department (ED) attendances for mental health needs in Gloucestershire have increased in recent years and we’ve recently introduced several measures to help support them. However, we believe that this new service will not only provide invaluable support to patients with mental health needs but also to those attending our department for other reasons.”

Having a friendly face on hand from volunteers who are experienced at sitting down and really listening will benefit everyone in our high-intensity environment

Dr Faye Noble, Consultant in Emergency Medicine