“Better than Google Maps” volunteers at NSHA help ease a little stress.

Diane O’Connor is a familiar face that can be found volunteering at the Victoria General site of the QEII.
Diane O’Connor is a familiar face that can be found volunteering at the Victoria General site of the QEII.

Let’s face it, a trip to the hospital is usually filled with a little bit of fear, apprehension and nervous energy. That’s why we have volunteers to greet and help patients and visitors as they arrive at our facilities across the province. 

“Having a face that they [patients] can go to and know that this person knows the answers – or will find the answer for you has such a big impact on a patient or visitor’s experience,” said Jennifer Moore, Volunteer Resources Consultant in the Annapolis Valley.

Many times our volunteers are the first people that you’ll see when you arrive. They play an important role in greeting and helping reduce some stress by guiding or directing them to where they are supposed to be. 

“I once had someone tell me that I was better than Google Maps for giving directions,” recalls Diane O'Connor, Ambassador Volunteer at the QEII Health Science Centre in Halifax. 

However, the Ambassador Program in HRM goes beyond giving directions. Many times our volunteers will get wheelchairs for patients and walk them to their appointments depending on their needs. “You really never know what is coming through the door,” said O’Connor. She explains that her approach is to smile and ask people as they arrive if they need any assistance. 

“People appreciate that we are here to help them whether we walk them right to their appointment or direct them to the closest washroom,” continues O’Connor.

That is why volunteer services is such an important part of Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA). In fact, NSHA is made up of 7,000 volunteers in a variety of roles across Nova Scotia. Our volunteers range from students to retirees and everyone in between. Volunteer Services aims to match people with a role that plays to their skills and interest. For example the roles of ambassador, hospitality and information desks positions interact with a lot of patients, family and visitors daily. 

“Our volunteers in these positions play an integral and important role in the patient’s health care experience” said Gordon Spurrell, Coordinator of Volunteer Services at the Nova Scotia Hospital, Dartmouth General Hospital and Cobequid Centre. “Volunteers are often the first contact in a hospital building or health care facility and the assistance they provide establishes a nice tone for the patient’s experience.” However, it is not just the patients and visitors who experience benefits from these services. The volunteers speak to the personal development they have gained in these roles.

“No matter what your interests are, volunteering is a great way to make an impact on your community,” said Bruce MacDonald, Emergency Department Hospitality volunteer at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital. “It opens doors – there are a bunch of different volunteer opportunities”

If you are a caring, positive and helpful individual seeking a rewarding volunteer opportunity, please consider joining our team of volunteers at Nova Scotia Health Authority. Visit our volunteer website for more information.