Today, we’re celebrating and thanking volunteers and carers!

I doubt we need to extol the value of volunteers and carers to most people – we all know that they’re a special breed of person, giving so much of themselves to helping other people, often to their own detriment.


Yesterday was the first day of National Volunteers’ Week (1st-7th June) and National Carers’ Week begins on Monday (12th-18th June) – so today, we’re taking the opportunity  to celebrate the vast and unique contribution both volunteers and carers make to the lives of people who are living with mental health conditions, substance misuse issues, learning disabilities or any enduring health condition.

At our Involvement Centre in Ollerton, we’re holding a Garden Party to thank our incredible volunteers and carers for everything they do. Friday at the centre is usually our volunteer’s busiest working day – planning their volunteering for the next week, catching up on their emails, debating and organising how we can work together to improve services. Today however, they’re banned from doing anything official and encouraged to just relax and enjoy the day!

If you want to read about the amazing and often unseen contribution made by volunteers in health and social care services, The Kings Fund wrote a paper in 2012 which talks about just that. You can download it here: The Kings Fund – Volunteering in health and social care, 2012

We’ll post a blog soon with photos from the day, and we’ll be tweeting from the @InvolveT1 Twitter account today and throughout next week.

What do you think about our community mental health services?

Every year, along with our ongoing Service User and Carer Experience (SUCE) survey, we carry out an annual national survey written by the Care Quality Commission (CQC), to find out what people accessing our community mental health services think about the care they receive.

The survey covers various aspects of care, including the quality of care and treatment, communication with health and social care workers, information, and how our services support you and contribute to your wellbeing.

Surveys went out in the post in February and the final date they can be returned to Quality Health (who carry out the survey on our behalf) is the 23rd June.

If you received the survey in the post and have not yet filled it in, please do have a go at filling it in, being honest about your experiences and how you feel about our community mental health services. Your feedback will help to highlight what we’re doing well, and what we could do better.

The results of the survey will be presented in a form that does not allow any individual’s answers to be identified, so please don’t worry that your answers could have any impact on your care – this could not happen.

We will publish the results on the Trust website and also on our dedicated feedback website, Your Feedback Matters.

For more information about the survey, see more information on the Nottinghamshire Healthcare website. 

Please contact the Involvement Team on if you have any queries or concerns about the survey, or would like to opt out of taking part in the survey.



The value of volunteers

At Nottinghamshire Healthcare, we are lucky to have the support of hundreds of generous volunteers who give up their time to help make our services, and people’s lives, better.

We thought it was really interesting to read the report produced by The King’s Fund in 2013 on understanding the scale and impact of volunteering in the NHS, which valued the contribution made by volunteers at the same level as a Band 2 employee.

It is very difficult to accurately calculate the economic value of volunteers – and even then, the contribution they make reaches far beyond the financial benefit.  But, just to give an idea…

Most of our volunteers give at least 3hrs a week to volunteering for Notts Healthcare, and do this on average twice a week, so to be conservative we have calculated the annual contribution of our volunteers based on six sessions a month.

This means, at a very conservative guess, that our volunteers ‘donate’ over 30,000 hours a year to supporting us, which, by The King’s Fund’s suggestion, means an annual contribution of over £290,000!

Wow. That’s quite some contribution!

To all our volunteers – thank you, sincerely, for all that you do.


Volunteers, and their very generous and unique contribution

At Nottinghamshire Healthcare, we are incredibly lucky (and grateful) to have a huge volunteering community who offer their time in lots of different ways around our organisation.

Some volunteers offer their time and their skills, some offer their experience and their personal stories as service users or carers  but all bring their unique generosity to an important role.

We just wanted to share with you a few of the volunteering highlights from the last year, which doesn’t cover everything (not by a long way) but does give a flavour of the collective impact volunteers have in our services and in people’s lives:

  • This year, we recruited our first dedicated feedback volunteer at Bassetlaw Hospital, and also a volunteer to help input the feedback we receive onto our feedback website. We now include training on how to capture patient feedback in all volunteer inductions.
  • A new volunteer placement was created this year supporting the Live! Project at Highbury Hospital. We recruited two volunteers to help out with the Highbury allotment and also to support staff to deliver activities to patients on the wards.
  • 27 new volunteers have been recruited this year to support the delivery of courses at the Trust’s Recovery College.
  • A volunteer and her German Pointer PAT dog Flo have been regular visitors to the Lings Bar Hospital in Gamston since last year. Flo’s visits give patients something to focus on that is not health related and can reinforce and retrieve good memories. Some patients who became withdrawn have blossomed when chatting with the volunteer and stroking a very patient Flo’.
  • In the last year, we have trained volunteers to carry out a number of different audits including PLACE (Patient-Led Assessment of the Care Environment) Audits, MICE (monitoring infection cleanliness and the environment) audits and the 15 Step Challenge. Over 20 volunteers have been involved with PLACE (Patient Led Assessment of the Care Environment) audits alone this year, in over 12 locations across the Trust.
  • In March, a questionnaire asking patients for their feedback about the volunteer befriender scheme at Rampton resulted in unanimous positive responses, with some very poignant and touching replies from the patients about what it means to them to have a Befriender to visit: “I’m not a lost soul.” The questionnaire also elicited very positive feedback from the volunteer befrienders about their roles: “I spend so much time smiling during my visit, my face aches when I leave the hospital.” 46 patients at Rampton are supported by befrienders.
  • 431 active volunteers are supporting the work of the Children Centres, providing over 12,000 hours a year contribution to the community. All volunteers attend a 6 week course with a chance to attend a further short course to become a more specialist volunteer in breastfeeding peer support or as a perinatal befriender.


In total, we think our volunteers offer roughly 45,000 hours to our Trust every year. It’s tricky to estimate it exactly, but that’s a conservative estimate!

Thank you, sincerely, to all our wonderful volunteers for everything you do.

Hello! My name is Amy

Hi! My name is Amy Gaskin-Williams and I am the Involvement and Experience Manager for Nottinghamshire Healthcare.


It’s quite hard to explain exactly what an Involvement and Experience Manager does! They don’t exist in every NHS Trust and even when they do, their jobs are quite different to mine (as opposed to a universally recognised profession, such as a nurse).

I am one of the Involvement, Experience and Volunteering Team, and we are responsible for leading the Trust’s approach to three things:

  1. Involving people.
    This means that we believe the organisation should involve people when they’re making decisions about how to best care for service users, their carers and their families.
  2. Listening to, and acting on, feedback.
    This means that we believe the organisation should seek feedback from service users, their carers and their families, and truly listen to and act on what they say.
  3. Recruiting and supporting volunteers.
    This means that we believe the organisation should welcome volunteers, recruit and induct them properly, and support them in their roles, as well as recognising the fantastic contribution they make to our services and to the lives of the people we’re caring for.

I feel very proud to work for the team that helps the organisation do those three things well. They’re very important to me, and I believe that they’re very important to the thousands of people we look after. People, especially when they’re at their most unwell, want to know that their voices count for something, that they matter, and that their unique perspective on our services is taken seriously.

So, what is it that I actually do?

  • I oversee the two Involvement Centres and our Volunteering and Befriending Service
  • I help Paul (our Head of Involvement, Experience and Volunteering) to report to Board and elsewhere on how well the organisation is involving people, responding to feedback and supporting volunteers
  • I lead on point 2 above, how we support the organisation to capture and respond to feedback/patient experience
  • I support the group of Involvement and Experience Leads in our services

My job is very varied, and I wouldn’t want it any other way! I have a lot of energy and enthusiasm, so it really suits me to be on-the-go and contributing to lots of different types of work.

To explain a bit about me, before joining Notts Healthcare I purposefully found jobs that gave me the opportunity to support people with a range of different conditions/circumstances (older people suffering with dementia, children in care, young adults with severe and complex learning disabilities etc). I loved this work, particularly being with young adults with learning disabilities, and some days I still miss it. I then joined Patient Opinion, where I worked with mental health Trusts across the country to capture and respond to patient feedback.

I came to Notts Healthcare in 2013 and I love my job as much today as I did in my first week (in fact, quite a lot more).

Involvement: Plans for the Future Meeting (Rachel Murnaghan, Involvement Volunteer)

I work as a volunteer at the Involvement Centre and on the 26th August we had a meeting about the future plans for Involvement.  We have a voice to make changes to what is happening in the Trust and I feel privileged to be part of such an innovative meeting.

We discussed the Involvement,Experience and Volunteering strategy and all members of the two Involvement Centres (one at Duncan Macmillan House, in Mapperley, and Rosewood in Ollerton, North Nottinghamshire) were vocal about what they thought we should have in our plans for the future.

My main area of interest of the issues we discussed is how we involve, support and train volunteers to play a key role in the organisation.  For me, the future for service users and carers is at the heart of what the Trust does and its potential for services (especially care) is paramount.

Sometimes the meeting can bring up sensitive issues regarding the running of the centres.  However, Paul Sanguinazzi(Head of Involvement) always listens to what we have to say and asks us to see if we can see a way forward in response to a problem.  This means I trust his approach to bring out the best in the centres and future plans.