Volunteer wearing a purple polo shirt standing alongside a houeskeeper next to a mealtime trolley

Ward Support Volunteer


This role enhances the quality and comfort of the patient’s stay by offering complimentary patient support to improve the patient experience, under direct supervision from the qualified ward staff. 

Commitment level

2-4 hours, weekly or fortnightly for a minimum of 6 months

Shifts available 7 days a week.  Approximately 10.00am-2.00pm or 4.00pm-7.00pm

Summary of duties

This role will be under the guidance and supervision of the ward staff, and accompanies the housekeeper during mealtimes.

•   Report to ward manager or nurse in charge on arrival
•   Routinely checking in on patients for an informal chat
•   Make sure staff are aware immediately if a patient has any clinical concerns 
•   After each patient has received their meal, check the patient is happy with their food, passing on any queries or concerns 
•   Help with ad-hoc incidental patient requests such as topping up their water jug or fetching a blanket
•   Encourage patients to eat, (no feeding permitted) helping to ensure food is cut up, opened and accessible as directed (training available) 
•   If the patient has not completed their next menu card, prompt them to do so or find a housekeeper to support them
•   Take the time to understand how patients like their drinks and pass this information onto the housekeeper for completion

Skills, experience, attitudes, and qualities needed


•    Excellent listening skills and a non-judgmental attitude
•    Compassionate 
•    A friendly and open manner
•    To feel comfortable in an acute hospital environment
•    To adhere to the Trust values of treating others with respect and dignity at all times
•    Understand the importance to stay within the boundaries of the role description


•    Experience working with people with cognitive impairments or dementia
•    Experience working with people with autism or a learning disability 

Training and information provided

•    Volunteer mandatory training programme (please find further information on our FAQs page)
•    Department orientation and induction
•    Specialist training if required, such as Dementia Level 2 or mealtime companion training
•    Shadowing induction sessions with an existing volunteer or staff member demonstrating the role.
•    Ongoing supervision and support 
•    Ongoing updates and information

Challenges of the position

•    Coming into hospital can be an anxious time for patients and their relatives. Sometimes this may make people less tolerant than they might usually be and they may come across as impolite. It is important that the volunteer remains calm and listens politely and seeks staff support immediately if required.
•    Potentially supporting patients with cognitive impairments or dementia (around 25% of inpatients at NBT have dementia), additional training and support will be provided. 

Boundaries of the position

Volunteering within the NHS has clear boundaries to ensure that we are keeping our patients and volunteers safe. Please download the detailed role description below for further details. 

Reimbursement of expenses

•    Travel expenses to and from the hospital can be reimbursed
•    Meal vouchers for use in the staff Vu restaurant are offered if volunteering for over 4 consecutive hours in one day

Benefits of volunteering

•    Gain practical volunteer experience and learn about the healthcare environment 
•    Develop skills and experience that may be transferable to paid employment, such as working as a part of a team
•    Opportunity to help/support patients during a difficult time
•    References can be provided on completion of three months volunteering, if required
•    Ongoing support and supervision sessions
•    Making friends with other volunteers and meeting new people
•    Awards in recognition of volunteering contribution
•    Light refreshments when on duty
•    Free parking

Recruitment information

You will be asked to provide two independent references from people who have known you for more than three years (this cannot be a family member).

You will also need to have a standard Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check for this role, which will be paid for by the Trust.

How to apply

If you would like to apply for this volunteer opportunity, please click the link below to be taken to the application portal, where you will be able to apply online: 

Current Vacancies | North Bristol NHS Trust (nbt.nhs.uk)

If you would like an alternative method to apply, such as a paper application form, please get in touch with us directly on: 

Telephone Number: 0117 414 0110

Email: Volunteer.services@nbt.nhs.uk

Postal Address: Volunteer Services, North Bristol NHS Trust, Brunel building, Level 1, Gate 18, Southmead Hospital, Bristol, BS10 5NB