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Navigators at Vic to help

Some of the navigators at Blackpool Victoria Hospital, Chloe Cheetham, left, Cassandra Garcia and Brenda Hargeaves with volunteer co-ordinator Jane Iceton.

Some of the navigators at Blackpool Victoria Hospital, Chloe Cheetham, left, Cassandra Garcia and Brenda Hargeaves with volunteer co-ordinator Jane Iceton.

Blackpool Vic’s new volunteers are set to rack up six miles a day walking around the hospital.

The volunteers, or navigators as they are now known, will spend their days helping patients and visitors get around the site if they are unsure about where they are going.

And with one volunteer reaching five and a half miles in one shift, the navigators are making sure they are wearing comfortable shoes.

Jane Iceton, volunteer co-ordinator at The Vic, said the idea was to have all 65 navigators fully trained before the new entrance to the hospital opens next month.

She said: “This is all about the patient journey and making the experience as best as it possible can be for them.

“We had an existing team of welcomers at the hospital for a number of years, but this is an enhanced role to make sure patients are able to find their way around the site.

“Being a patient at a hospital can put people in a vulnerable position. They’re worried about a procedure, test results or an illness, and the last thing they want is to be lost, or not knowing how to get to the right unit.

“By helping, we’re taking part of that stress away.”

At the moment, the navigators – identifiable by their bright orange uniforms – are based at the Women and Children’s unit, and have even been helping people find their way from the Vic’s new car park, which opened at the beginning of January.

Brenda Hargreaves, 62 from Lytham, is one of the navigators and has had a couple of sessions helping people get around the hospital.

She said she had worked for the NHS before retiring, and wanted to give something back so became a volunteer.

She added: “People are anxious when they come into any hospital and just to be a friendly face for them and to help calm them is a fantastic role for us to have.

“When people get lost or don’t know where they are in a huge building like this it can be upsetting. You can see the panic in their eyes. It must be a huge relief that we’re here for them.

“Even staff are coming up to us.”

The navigators are still finding their way around the hospital, but Jane says they are confident for the opening of the new entrance.

Brenda added: “People don’t mind if we tell them we’re not sure of the layout because we will go with them to find where they need to be.”

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