Spiritual volunteers make a difference


Media Release

Winchester District Memorial Hospital (WDMH) is very fortunate to have a small group of dedicated volunteers who provide patient visitation services. 

These volunteers show up daily and visit anyone who requests their services. Patients need not be religious or spiritual – they just need someone to talk to. Coming from different backgrounds with varying motivations, their goal is simply to support the exemplary holistic care provided by WDMH.

Spiritual volunteers are much more than just compassionate visitors. To become a spiritual volunteer, individuals must attend a six-week course, pass a final exam, and complete a set amount of service time to receive certification. 

Training includes aspects of every faith ranging from Islam to Christianity to Judaism and many more. Beyond considerations of faith, spiritual volunteers must also be prepared to interact with patients who may be in the worst crisis of their lives. They attend monthly training sessions to learn new communication techniques and discuss best practices.

“Patients look forward to our visits,” says Jannie Van Noppen, one of the spiritual volunteers.

“One patient I visited was having a hard time communicating. It turns out she could only speak German.”

“Fortunately,” she continued, “I could speak some and when we talked, she told me her incredible life story. By the end of our first visit I was able to help her understand what some of the things the staff was asking her for.”

Spiritual volunteers break down many barriers for the patient. They provide a warm and welcoming face to whomever would like visitation. They are there to listen and improve the patient experience at WDMH.

The spiritual volunteers at WDMH are: Jannie Van Noppen, Sabina de Stecher, Susan Helmer, Elva Patterson-Rutters, Shirley Nichol, and David Millward. 

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