The people I’ve visited have always been very interesting in their own right and all have been very different from each other.
I have a gentleman in his fifties who I take shopping once a week – I pick him up with his shopping list and we trundle off to Lidl. He’s actually very self-conscious when he goes out so I always stand with him to help him with a bit of confidence. Then we go back, have a cup of tea and a chat. I’ve been visiting him for two months now.
The first person I visited had a collection of digital photos and our conversation grew out of that. We went through them all and I helped him organise them. It was really a way of us finding common ground and he began telling me about his life and interests. His family told me my visits perked him up a lot – that was a massive confidence booster for me because without that feedback you don’t really know if what you’re doing is providing benefit to the person you are visiting.
Another gentleman was a fascinating scientific photographer – who also wanted help to sort out his will – I didn’t help him directly but my reporting his needs to Dorothy House meant he got the support he needed.
Then I visited one gentleman who just wanted to play Scrabble – he had very limited mobility in his head and limbs and had impaired speech, so I placed his tiles where he wanted.
I don’t dwell on the past or predict the future. It’s all about doing something now. I believe our mission as companions is to help make life as interesting and stimulating as possible for people whose lives are limited in terms of what they can do. You have to be good at listening – that’s quite a challenge for me – but it’s important to step back and let the patient complete their part of the conversation before butting in.
Before I became a companion I didn’t really know that Dorothy House provided such a service or was aware of their full range of services, it’s just amazing what they offer.
Dorothy House supported my father when he was dealing with life threatening illness and I remembered how good Dorothy House had been with him. So when I came to the end of my working life and was looking to do some volunteering, I came to Dorothy House. It’s been a really worthwhile experience for me.’