Vishal’s story

I’m a student at Bath University, studying Biochemistry. I’ve been a volunteer at Dorothy House for a few months and come in for a day every few weeks. I work in the Day Patient Unit which offers patients a weekly opportunity to meet other people and to take part in activities, or to talk to health professionals in a relaxed environment.

The team includes creative arts specialists, therapists and volunteers. I was keen to work with older people as I used to look after my disabled grandmother – she inspired me – although the patients here aren’t by any means all elderly. I really enjoy coming here – the patients really appreciate your time and effort – the feedback is instant! And the DPU staff are lovely. They make me feel very welcome.

There’s no set day but a typical day for me in the DPU might start with Qigong – gentle breathing exercises and hand movements that benefit your joints and your body as a whole. The patients really like it – they say they feel a bit more relaxed and more energised as well. Then, we might go for a walk in the gardens if the weather’s nice – the location of Dorothy House is very nice. Then it’s time for lunch. In the afternoon, we do what the patients want to do – that could be a rest and a chat, or sorting out something to do with their treatment with the healthcare professionals and therapists.

I like the first part of the mornings best – if you start well, the whole day flows a bit better. It’s an older age group. Sometimes things don’t work out quite as planned, so being flexible is important. We might start going for a walk, and a patient might get breathless and need to sit down instead. I don’t always know what patients are capable of and, quite often, they don’t either.

I’m really happy being a volunteer – I look to do some volunteering each year, as an addition to my academic studies and I feel coming here is certainly very different from university life. It puts things in perspective.