Lorainne Brecard, Manager of Volunteer Services, personally knows what it means to walk into a facility like Chris O’Brien Lifehouse, as both a patient and as a carer.
She also has 20 years of volunteering behind her, including working with the Starlight Children’s Foundation.
“I believe my personal experience has helped me in my role, along with professional skills of workforce management and training. Some of our volunteers want to help patients because of their own personal experience, and I can connect very personally with that motivation. I can also connect with the way that even little gestures can mean so much to patients.”
Lorainne says other volunteers are motivated by wishing to give back to the community and make a meaningful contribution.
“I work with a great team of Lifehouse staff to provide volunteer assistance to help patients in small aspects of life, to make their experience a better one,” she says.
“Workplace planning is important but you also need flexibility in your day and to think on your feet. This can include assisting families by bringing toys and puzzles and distracting children while their parents care for a loved one they are visiting or while they are receiving their own treatment. Volunteers also assist staff in many ways including admin support and running errands.
“I’m proud of the fact that the Volunteer Services team provides many services that can assist patients from their very first visit to Lifehouse; from shuttle services from Central station – to welcoming and directing them around the hospital, bringing them refreshments during treatment, playing chess, reading, keeping people company and many other activities.
“The experiences with patients come from a vast range of needs, as our community has so many diverse groups. I recall when we had an elderly patient with Alzheimers, who was getting very anxious about her test and examination. A volunteer and I sat with her, held her hands and sang her favourite song with her as she waited, which bought a beautiful smile to her face. Another time, a volunteer and I sat on the floor of a waiting room blowing bubbles with a wand with a toddler and a baby, as the family came to terms with challenging news. They were so relieved that the children were settled and they could focus on the news at hand.
“On another occasion I sat and chatted with a patient who did not speak English but with the help of Google Translate we were able to share a story and a laugh together.
“The Volunteer Services Team contributes positively to the patient experience at Lifehouse, and all members of our team work hard to do their best at a variety of roles to make a difference. It’s a pleasure to come in each day and work alongside such dedicated people.
“Every day I see passionate volunteers engaged with the Lifehouse values and vision. I get to work with people and for people. It’s the best job in the world!”