Two local women make it their mission to brighten a patient’s day at the Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre where they volunteer.
Dianne Armstrong and Gail Parsons, also affectionately known as the ‘Sunshine Girls’, have both been volunteering for a number of years and currently spend their time on Unit 32, also known as the palliative care unit, of the Red Deer Hospital.
There are 10 beds on the unit and the patients on that particular ward are terminally ill.
“I love giving comfort and care to people who are on the end of their life journey,” said Parsons, who has been volunteering at the hospital for three years. “They love the attention and affection that we give them.
“It’s very rewarding emotionally. We go away feeling better than we do when we get there knowing that we’ve helped to brighten someone’s day.”
She added although the volunteers on Unit 32 know the patients are terminal, there is nothing depressing about their job.
“There is a lot of happiness,” said Parsons. “We get to cheer up the patients as well as their families.”
Armstrong said she enjoys meeting new people and meeting the patient’s families.
“We really get to know them and we are able to bring them comfort as well,” she said. “A lot of the family members become our friends.”
To help with their volunteer work, a comfort cart was developed by Armstrong and Parsons which helps the ladies connect with the patients.
The cart began at the ladies’ own expense but donations have been made to help keep the cart stocked.
“We provide tea and coffee as well as juice for the families,” said Parsons. “We also have snacks, books, cards and lotion that we offer. It’s exactly that – a comfort cart.”
Parsons added it helps them break the ice with the patients and open the doors.
“We’re offering them something so it opens up communication and we’re able to start a conversation with them and their families,” she said.
For more information or to donate to the comfort cart, call Linda at 403-343-4715 ext. 2.