A friend of mine was fired the other day. And there is no severance pay for a volunteer. He was a volunteer at Royal Victoria Hospital (RVH) here in Barrie, Ontario. He had been an enthusiastic volunteer before the pandemic, and had been delighted to be welcomed back. What he did not know was how the hospital had changed. It was his usual enthusiasm that got him fired.
I had seen the changes at the hospital as a patient and knew that few were welcoming the changes. Our skinflint conservative government had destroyed what was once a well-run hospital. What used to be good hospital food has become awful. The wait times in emergency are starting to be measured in 12-hour increments. The most important job in the hospital seems to be the job of getting the patients out of there. And the management changes appear to be a disaster.
There is no doubt that the management of a hospital is a special skill. And the management of volunteers is a more complex skill. Add to that the anger and frustrations being left by the pandemic and the hospital has serious problems.
Where the hospital used to have the luxury of a waiting list for replacing any of its 750 volunteers, they are having to work with about 250 active volunteers at this time. And from what I hear about the management of this very valuable resource, the numbers will continue to be heading down.
One thing, for sure, if the hospital insists on a zero-tolerance policy, those numbers will get worse, not better.
Managing volunteers requires a pro-active management. It requires an open-door policy. It means gathering regularly with your volunteers, appreciation of them and a comradery. And if you are going to have volunteers between 60 and 90 years old, you better have managers for them who can talk to them.
These people are a marvelous resource beyond reception, wheeling patients to departments and clinics and ambassadors for the hospital. They speak other languages, can visit patients who need visitors and can assist staff in so many ways. You get to know their capabilities by working pro-actively with them.
Copyright 2023 © Peter Lowry
Complaints, comments, criticisms and compliments can be sent to: