Patients about to leave hospital will get more support to return home thanks to a new volunteer transport service at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.
The Volunteer Drivers scheme, which will be funded by the N&N Hospitals Charity, is available to patients who are discharged via the hospital’s Aylsham Discharge Suite provided they are relatively mobile and able to transfer from a wheelchair to the car.
It is believed to be among the first hospital-run schemes of its kind in the country.
It will run alongside existing non-emergency ambulance transfer services to provide an option for patients who do not need an ambulance, but would otherwise struggle to get home due to illness, time or financial constraints or are simply facing a long wait for taxis, public transport or friends and relatives.
Volunteer Driver Coordinator Jamie Goodman, who will manage the project, said: “Patients using the service will be taken home by drivers who are equipped to deal with any situation which may occur on the journey to the patient’s home, have undergone DBS screening and a driving assessment by the Road Safety Team at Norfolk County Council.
“They will assist the patient into their home and, if necessary, can hand over to a volunteer from the Settle-in team who will help ease the patient back into their surroundings.
“This could be putting the heating on, making a hot drink, ensuring there is food available in the house and helping to alleviate any fears the patient may have on returning home.”
The go-ahead for the scheme follows a successful trial last year.
The N&N Hospitals Charity is funding the project at a cost of £115,000 for three years and includes the lease of two Renault Trafic vehicles which have been adapted to assist patients who may have mobility problems, disabilities and pieces of equipment to be transported home.
Last year’s trial found that the service made a huge difference to those patients who would otherwise have faced lengthy waits for transport home and working together with the Settle-in volunteers, it is hoped that patients will have a stress-free ‘going home’ experience.
Julie Cooper, Head of the Charity’s Grants Team said: “It is fantastic to see donations to the Hospital Charity being used to help our patients in this way.
“We know that leaving hospital can be a stressful experience for many and we hope that this service will go some way to removing some of the worries facing patients.”
To find out more about the N&N Hospitals Charity and how you can help, visit our website www.nnhospitalscharity.org.uk
If you would like some more information about the Volunteer Driver service or to get involved with the Volunteer team, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Picture: Julie Cooper, Head of the Charity’s Grants Team, hands over the keys to NNUH Chief Executive Sam Higginson.