Life as an NHS Volunteer

Life as an NHS volunteer! And a Covid vaccine at last!

Well if you had told me we would still be living with such restrictions in February 21, I never would have believed you.

This time last year my husband and I were planning a ski holiday to France with 20 friends, which is where we contracted Covid. Fortunately, we only lost our sense of taste and smell. However, three of the groups ended up in hospital, eventually making a full recovery thankfully.

To think that over 100,000 people have since lost their lives through Covid is truly a nightmare.

As you know, I was volunteering last spring with the NHS on the wards in the East Lothian Community Hospital ELCH, helping patients to connect with family and friends who were unable to visit, via phones and facetime. With the temporary closure of Leuchie and the tight restrictions on our lives, the opportunity to get out and help people volunteering again this year was very welcome.

My role has now changed and I am now helping in the Covid vaccination clinic in Haddington. I feel very fortunate to be able to spend two mornings in the vaccination clinics chatting and meeting lots of different people. The clinics are well organised and very busy. I was expecting the older age groups and more vulnerable groups, but they are apparently being seen via GP surgeries. We have seen staff from care homes, care at home services, sheltered housing services, dentists, student nurses, occupational therapists, podiatrists, drug rehabilitation services, track and trace staff and frontline social workers coming in for vaccinations. The atmosphere feels very different and very positive in that there is hopefully an end in sight! People are generally very excited and pleased at last to get the vaccine. Certainly a few have been cautious and were anxious about getting the “jab,” but said they had been reassured by colleagues who had had it and by reading more about the research that has been done.

My role has been to direct the public to the relevant areas and to encourage them to wait for 15 mins after their injection, to ensure they are feeling ok afterwards. I am pleased to say that everyone has been fine so far, but it remains a recommendation from the vaccine company. I must say their chat has made the sessions wizz by, having only had my husband and the latest cricket wins to listen to over the last few months, I like many of you have been looking forward to real conversation!

I initially check that they are feeing ok, the majority are delighted to have had the opportunity to have the vaccine. The chat moves on to what they are doing to occupy their time, if not working, and what they are looking forward to doing, once this is all over. They talk of people they have known who have died and being able to safely see family and friends again. They talk of weddings that have been postponed and share pictures of wedding dresses on their phones with me. They share the horrors and laughs of home schooling and the best deal on wine at Tesco! We all talk of the best films on Netflix and that eventual holiday and some sunny weather and getting back to a new normal! All of this done with a mask on and keeping our distance! Any slight sore arm swiftly forgotten.

I think everyone has enjoyed the trip out and the chance to chat and to share their stories, the vaccine but an added bonus!

I hope all our Leuchie guests are keeping well and will soon be offered the vaccine.

Becky Everett