Call for volunteers to help lift spirits at Toronto hospital

It was the kindness and level of care shown to her sister when she was a patient at Toronto Private Hospital that motivated Robyn Spinks to join its volunteer program.

For the past four years Ms Spinks has worked to provide that same level of care, comfort and understanding to the hospital's patients.

Sometimes she'll simply hold a patient's hand and listen to their stories. She might read them the newspaper, host a sing-along, or sit and enjoy a craft activity with them.

"The staff were really so caring when my sister was very ill and passed away here," Ms Spinks, from Macquarie Hills, said.

"She was always treated with such dignity and my family and I were always treated with such kindness. It's nice now to give back. Volunteering is the best thing I ever did."

Ms Spinks is one in a team of about 20 volunteers at Toronto Private Hospital.

The hospital is currently recruiting for its volunteering program.

The program offers volunteers specialist training as well as a reward system.

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Volunteers receive a uniform, morning and afternoon tea, and certificates to acknowledge training and achievements.

"My day starts by introducing myself to the patients and asking if I can assist them in any way," Ms Spinks said.

"This may involve getting them the newspaper or sometimes it's just lending an ear to listen.

"I also organise a sing-along on a Tuesday to lift their spirits.

"The most rewarding part of being a volunteer is providing an impartial ear to listen, as well as providing support and assurance. I take satisfaction in knowing that I'm helping to make a difference.

"For anyone wondering if volunteering at the hospital is for them, I'd say it is one of the most rewarding things you can ever do and I'd highly recommend it."

Toronto Private Hospital chief executive officer Jason Thomas said he had seen the positive impacts of the volunteer program.

"Hospitals are a great place to volunteer because there are always so many people who could use some help," he said.

"Research compiled by Volunteering Australia demonstrates that the experience of helping others provides volunteers with meaning, a sense of self-worth, a social role and health enhancement.

"For members within the community who can't or don't wish to engage in paid employment, volunteering can provide them with a team, a role and a purpose - not to mention new skills."

Volunteering forms can be found at torontoprivate.com.au. Phone Chloe Carruthers on 4956 0676.

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