SPRINGFIELD, Pa. – This past July, Crozer-Keystone Health System launched the Friendly Visitor Program as part of the senior-friendly initiative at Springfield Hospital. The program provides a lay companion to ensure that elderly patients’ emotional and social needs are met in addition to their medical needs.
Because nurses must care for several patients at any given time, they often are unable to spend lengthy amounts of time socializing with each patient. Friendly visitors provide companionship in times when it’s needed most. The friendly visitor team makes a patient’s hospital stay a more pleasant and personal experience by providing one-on-one socialization. The visitors use items from activity boxes and comfort kits that are kept at the nurses’ station. These activities usually consist of solving puzzles, playing card games, and reading the newspaper. The goal is to keep patients engaged during their stay.
Friendly visitors help patients with certain tasks such as retrieving water, adjusting their pillow, and picking out their menu. “Emotionally, people have a need to feel connected,” says Margaret Stevens, administrative director of Crozer-Keystone Senior Health Services. “The Friendly Visitor Program’s goal is to provide socialization for older adult patients and discourage any feelings of isolation they may have.”
Seventeen-year-old Katie Wenger worked as a friendly visitor this summer. She reflects on her time at Springfield Hospital, saying, “I’ve had a great experience. The patients have been so nice when we have conversations. Many of them reminisce about being volunteers themselves. My experience as a friendly visitor has helped me to build upon my positivity and compassion.”
Springfield Hospital is currently looking for outgoing, positive, service-oriented individuals to join the friendly visitor team. There is no age requirement. Crozer-Keystone encourages anyone interested in becoming a friendly visitor to contact Janet Kalup, director of Volunteer Services, at 610-328-8838 or [email protected].
For more information about the programs and services at Crozer-Keystone, visitcrozerkeystone.org.
Photo: Katie Wenger, Springfield Hospital friendly visitor volunteer, spends some time with patient Michael DiFurio.
Director, Public Relations and Marketing | Delaware County Memorial Hospital & Taylor Hospital