CARMEL Simkin wants to help people feel a little more at ease from the moment they step into fast-paced bustling hospital foyers. Even if it is just to offer a friendly face.
Ms Simkin was part of the first new welcome team to greet visitors and clients at the Queen Elizabeth Centre this week. The team is part of an expanded Ballarat Health Services’ volunteer program, which has been operating from the BHS Base Hospital Sturt Street entrance the past two years.
Ms Simkin was ready for the challenge – she had started in the volunteer role on the team’s very first day at Sturt Street and in the Ballarat Regional Integrated Cancer Centre wellness rooms.
“You’re meeting and greeting, offering a cup of coffee and letting people talk to you when they need to,” Ms Simkin said. “People get to know you, and can have a joke. It’s about making people feel comfortable, not uptight, when taking them to where they want to go. Just trying to make it easier for them.”
Ms Simkin said hospitals could be overwhelming and confusing places, particularly in stressful times, but the welcome team could always find the right person or directions to help. She was always learning new things and finding new places about the hospital with a variety of queries.
Repeat visitors, patients, and even staff, have got to know Ms Simkin by the hospital’s front doors and now she hoped to get to know people going about the QEC.
BHS volunteer services manager Sue Jakob said there had been an increasing demand for the QEC’s rehabilitation and clinic appointments and a welcome team, based in the Ascot Street South entrance, would be a great benefit.
QEC’s first welcomers have experience from the Base Hospital but have undertaken orientation to learn the site’s layout. They are armed with maps and key details on their post, just like at the Base Hospital.
BHS has plans to further expand the volunteer welcome team when the Base Hospital’s new Drummond Street wing opens early next year.
BHS has more than 300 volunteers. To join: www.bhs.org.au/careers.