Two in five people in hospital never have any visitors, research suggests.
A poll of 200 hospital nurses for the Royal Voluntary Service found many believed the lack of visitors had a detrimental effect on patient recovery.
Nurses felt patients were less likely to be mobile if they had no visitors, were less likely to follow medical advice, had fewer conversations and relied on nursing staff more.
They also suggested these patients tended to have to go through longer stays in hospital, too.
Sam Ward, director of commissioned services for Royal Voluntary Service, said: “With results showing two fifths of patients may not see a visitor during their hospital stay, it is clear that more is needed to be done to support them.”
Ward suggests that volunteers in hospitals could be key to offering a support service, and encouraging mental stimulation and physical activity. He said volunteers can also play a significant role in both mental and physical recovery.
“It is vital that hospitals work together with volunteer service providers to make sure that patients across the country are able to access this support,” he said.
So How Can You Get Involved?
The Royal Voluntary Service runs several hospital services including assistance with meals, patient transport, trolley services and volunteer-run cafes and shops. Head to the hospital support section of the RVS website to find out more about volunteering opportunities within the NHS.
Susan Webster, a senior charge nurse at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, agreed adding that volunteers “make a real difference” to the ward she works in.
“They provide company for the patients, some of whom don’t get any visitors and can be left feeling isolated,” she said. “You can’t put a price on the value of that social interaction, especially for our older patients.”