Where? North Bristol NHS
What? Speech and Language departments at Southmead and Frenchay Hospitals
Why did you choose this place? Because I want to go into speech therapy, and I thought that volunteering with my desired work place was the best place to start!
How did you find the application process? It was difficult because, it really depends on knowing the right person to contact. Initially I contacted a speech therapist and the email got lost and never replied to. 4 months later I tried again and I was successful, it still took a while to get through to Voluntary Services and then fill out the paper work and get hold of a speech therapist that would place me. The best place to start with the NHS is to contact Voluntary Services directly, and then they can get you in contact with the appropriate member of staff within your chosen department.
What do you do here? For four months I have been doing only an hour a week, conversational partnering with a stroke victim, visiting her at home. There have been ups and downs and I was foolish to think it was always going to be easy, but really, really rewarding and I have been up a strong rapport with her and her daughter (her main carer). I have tried to come up with ways of stimulating her through music and currently with Makaton, helping her with communication.
Additionally, once my third year finished I asked for more volunteering, and I do half a day in the administration department at Frenchay and a full day at Southmead. Though this sounds boring I have exposure to all the paperwork, systems and therapists, which I see as a considerable plus as I have learnt that a small part of the job is seeing patients, and a large amount is the paperwork!
I know that there are many different positions that they can put you in, I know others that have been placed at the communication aid centre at Frenchay, with the potential to lead groups and working with the technology, however I think you are placed wherever is most needed.
The good things: Great perks! Mileage is compensated every month, free parking and you get lunch vouchers for the hospital restaurant, you are also a member of NHS discounts. Though these are great benefits, once you get in everyone is so lovely and helpful. My assigned therapist is also a bit of a mentor to me, helping me with applications for speech assistant jobs, and just taking an interest in me. The volunteering is very flexible, you can do as much or little as you want, on any day and it is really rewarding.
The bad things: You have to be a bit persistent with the application.
Anything else we should know? Definitely recommend it to anyone who wanted to go into the profession.