Beyond medical care: Why volunteers at Mercy Hospice are life-savers

Robin Lesley-Clark thought he was going to Mercy Hospice to die. Instead, he credits Mercy Hospice for providing the wrap-around care and support he needed to fight for his life.

Having just finished a six-week stay after being diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumour behind his eye, Robin praises the volunteers at Mercy Hospice as “life-savers.”

"I thought I was going there to die," Robin recalls. "But in fact, Mercy Hospice saved my life. The level of care from their clinical teams and the awesome support provided by the volunteers and staff was unlike anything I had ever experienced.”

Robin’s diagnosis caused immense pain, leading him to believe his days were numbered. Referred to Mercy Hospice for pain management, Robin was prepared for this to be his final chapter.

During his stay, Robin underwent rigorous treatment, including 34 sessions of radiation and daily chemotherapy. He describes the support he received as not just medical but extremely personal.

As National Volunteer Week approaches, Robin thanks the volunteers at Mercy Hospice for giving him the strength to live every moment.

"The volunteers made me feel like I was their only priority. They took me to my appointments, waited for me, asked if I wanted to go anywhere, and made sure I was comfortable," said Robin. "I was so sick, but they helped me fight. I felt spoiled and cared for in a way I had never experienced before."

"If I won the lotto this weekend, I would give half of it to Mercy Hospice. That's how much they mean to me.” 

Robin's story is a testament to the impact the volunteers at Mercy Hospice have, where he remembers the small acts of kindness that helped him fight.

“Extraordinary” is the word Debbie Stevens, Volunteer Coordinator for Patient Care Services at Mercy Hospice, uses to describe the difference volunteers make.  

“Some volunteers at Mercy Hospice serve as companions for patients who do not have any friends or whānau to support them. This can come in many ways – chatting or taking patients for coffee or sometimes it’s just sitting with them to provide a supportive presence,” she says.  

“Our companion volunteers are there for patients who are by themselves and step in when their carers need a rest. Volunteers receive special training to help them navigate the role, while more specialised training is given to volunteers working with patients who have higher levels of anxiety.

“Mercy Hospice is not a sad place – our volunteers bring laughter and love to patients and their whānau alike – it is an extraordinary place,” Debbie says.

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