In his voluntary work as a hospital lobby assistant, Rainer Enqvist can walk up to 8,000 steps during a three-hour volunteer shift.
– I go back and forth through the hospital corridors showing clients where they need to go or pushing them around in a wheelchair. I also make sure that they know how to get back to the front door after their visit, says Enqvist.
I go back and forth through the hospital corridors showing clients where they need to go or pushing them around in a wheelchair.Rainer Enqvist
Enqvist wears the familiar green OLKA volunteer vest one to two days a week. He is a great help to the hospital’s service advisors, who do not have time to help everyone find their way to the right department.
Enqvist is already a dab hand at the job, as he has been working as an OLKA volunteer since 2019.
– I saw an announcement in the newspaper about an ILONA course for volunteers. It was autumn and I was longing to do something useful after the summer. When you’re retired, you have time, and I like helping people of all ages, says Enqvist.
Volunteers have time to listen
Since spring 2023, Katrine Lassila has been volunteering for a couple of hours a week with the patients in the Specialised Geriatric Care Ward. Before she retired, she worked for several years as a care assistant at a service home for seniors and therefore has experience when working with people with dementia and the elderly.
– I feel at home with the elderly. I am social by nature and I like to talk to people. I also have a strong voice, so even people with hearing loss can hear what I say, says Lassila.
Lassila feels that voluntary work brings meaning to her life. Among the volunteers she has also found a new friend, someone who can help her to practise her Swedish language skills and with whom she can go for a walk and have a coffee.
– Elderly people appreciate that I have time to sit next to them and listen in peace. At first, we might talk about the weather and things in general, but as we get to know each other better, they also talk about more private things. We volunteers have a duty of confidentiality, so you can talk to us in confidence, says Lassila.
The next ILONA training for new volunteers will be held in Finnish on 22 November and in Swedish on 11 December in the premises of the Ostrobothnia’s Associations (POHY) in Vaasa.
New courses in November and December
All OLKA volunteers receive training and can initially work together with a more experienced volunteer to become properly familiarised with the tasks at hand and the hospital wards. The next ILONA training for new volunteers will be held in Finnish on 22 November and in Swedish on 11 December in the premises of the Ostrobothnia’s Associations (POHY) in Vaasa. The training takes one evening, during which, among other things, the rules to be followed and hospital hygiene instructions are reviewed, as well as situations that the volunteers may encounter. The volunteers also participate in a safety tour of the hospital, so that they also know what to do in the event of an emergency.
According to OLKA coordinator Viveca Salminen, a total of 35 volunteers have been working at Vaasa Central Hospital until the end of September during the year 2023.
– When you combine the hospital lobby assistants, conversation partners and peer support people, the voluntary work shifts this year amount to approximately 611 hours and almost 5,000 customer interactions, says Salminen.
The voluntary work shifts this year amount to approximately 611 hours and almost 5,000 customer interactionsViveca Salminen
OLKA volunteers are currently working at Vaasa Central Hospital, among other places, in the Surgical Ward, the Advanced Rehabilitation Ward, Cardiac Ward, Oncology and Haematology Ward, Accident & Emergency (A&E) Department, and the Internal Medicine and Neurology Ward.
– Now that CT scans are also temporarily being done in the U-building, OLKA volunteers have promised to help customers get there from the H-building. Volunteers have also been asked by the health centre to help, for example, with vaccination events organised on weekends, says Salminen.