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Call-out for PALS Volunteers in Ennis and Nenagh Hospitals

Virginia O'Dowd, PALS volunteer at Nenagh Hospital
Virginia O'Dowd, PALS volunteer at Nenagh Hospital.

THE Patient Advocacy Liaison Service (PALS) of UL Hospitals Group is looking for volunteers to join its teams in Ennis and Nenagh Hospitals, welcoming patients and visitors, assisting with way-finding and general queries, and helping people to give feedback on their experience of hospital service.

PALS volunteers are ambassadors for our hospitals, a crucial element of UL Hospitals Group’s efforts to improve care standards and the patient experience. Volunteers dressed in distinctive red tabards with embroidered gold logo, serve in multiple roles, whether giving directions or accompanying patients to appointments, giving out information, or gathering patient feedback.

The service is looking to hear from people who would be available to volunteer either in Ennis or Nenagh Hospitals, for a minimum of three hours per week during the mornings between 8.30am-12.30am.

Virginia O’Dowd, a retired teacher and former public representative from Nenagh, says that getting involved as a PALS volunteer in Nenagh Hospital has been hugely rewarding and called on people who may have free time on their hands and are interested in volunteering, to put their names forward.

Listen to PALS Volunteer Virginia Dowd on how she got involved in PALS (Soundcloud)

“As a PALS volunteer," Virginia explained, "you make a huge difference for patients, and their relatives and visitors, by doing simple things well. Before I got involved, I knew that even visiting hospitals can be quite daunting and disorientating, so I often thought that having somebody there to meet and greet, just to give a friendly smile, to help if needed, would be a very nice intervention. When PALS started in Nenagh Hospital, I applied to become a PALS volunteer, was called for an interview and was successful—and I’ve never looked back.”

“I get a lot more out of PALS than can be actually measured. It’s only one morning a week, and most people if they have the free time could easily give one morning a week. I like interacting with people and I like giving them a hand where possible. I always come home feeling richer and more appreciative of my own health, and it also gives me a great sense of pride in Nenagh Hospital and its services to the community,” she added.

In Ennis Hospital, Mary McInerney is the Assistant Director of Nursing for PALS volunteers says that local people volunteer for PALS for a wide range of reasons: “One of our longest serving volunteers told me simply that they enjoyed giving something back to their local community, and PALS gave them a very social way of doing it. One volunteer who comes from overseas got involved with the service as a way of making connections and friends when they were settling into the area. Yet another volunteer joined the service after the death of their husband: they found it very important to commit to something positive; helping others helped them to adapt to their new life.”

For some, volunteering for PALS can be the very first step on a new career path. One of the very first volunteers for the service in Ennis Hospital subsequently became a porter in the hospital.

Anyone can volunteer for PALS, provided they are 18-years of age and older, and support the ethos and aims of UL Hospitals Group. Our volunteers come from a wide range of backgrounds. You do not need qualifications, as any support and training you need is provided.

Cathrina Ryan, Operational Director of Nursing at Nenagh Hospital, said: “The PALS volunteers are an integral part of our service in Nenagh, and have greatly enhanced the experience of all who visit or attend as a patient, many of whom are very glad of the volunteers’ friendly greeting at the door, and their assistance in finding the way to their appointments.”

Joe Cassidy, Operational Director of Nursing in Ennis Hospital, says PALS volunteers reflect the local community’s pride in their local hospital: “PALS volunteers do not provide clinical care. They’re local faces, who are an invaluable source of information, support and comfort to patients and relatives and loved ones of patients in Ennis Hospital.”

Concluding, PALS volunteer Virginia O’Dowd said: “I would urge people in Nenagh or Ennis to volunteer for PALS in their local hospitals. You don’t need huge training to be able to show a friendly smile, ask if you can help, chat and put patients at ease. All these are very reassuring and simple things that make such a huge difference to the hospital experience; even the smallest act of kindness and support is very significant.”

Anyone interested in volunteering for PALS should: