Volunteers walk the hallway at the KGH site
There are a variety of different volunteer roles available at KHSC that can match individual volunteer's skills and interests.
Matthew Manor

Today marks the beginning of National Volunteer Week and Kingston Health Sciences Centre (KHSC) is putting the call out to the community in hopes of attracting new, or returning volunteers, who are interested in making a difference in the lives of patients and families. Prior to the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, KHSC had more than 800 volunteers, now that number sits at approximately 360.

“We needed to ramp down many of our volunteer programs in the early days of the pandemic to reduce the number of people inside the hospital,” says Alan Archer, Director, Workforce Planning and Labour Relations at KHSC. “As life is now returning to normal, we’re looking to ramp our programs back up. We are currently seeking people in the community who are interested in making KHSC a warmer place for everyone who enters our sites to receive care.” 

Volunteers are highly valued members of the health care team at KHSC, and they play a vital role in helping to improve the patient experience and complement the high standard of patient care provided by staff and physicians. 

“KHSC volunteers support patients and family members throughout their health care journey and enhance each step of the patient experience,” says Archer. “The sharing of time, skills, empathy, and creativity is vital to the inclusivity, strength, and well-being of our community.”

Individuals who are interested in volunteering can choose from a variety of roles, including:

  • Direct patient support roles: volunteers can spend time with patients, sharing hobbies or interests such as playing music, reading together, doing puzzles and crafts, or simply going for a walk. These volunteers are guided by a genuine desire to best meet the needs of the individuals they are engaging with. Sometimes they simply provide a warm blanket or sit quietly with an individual while their family takes a break. 
  • Liaison and information roles: these volunteers provide support by playing a crucial role helping people get where they need to be. Their objective is to be of assistance by providing directions, walking with someone to where they need to be, or calling for information or assistance on their behalf, making the hospital a more welcoming environment.  
  • Tuck shop, gift shop, and lottery booth roles: these roles are ideal for individuals who enjoy meeting new people, helping them find the perfect gift, making small talk and providing a listening ear, in addition to a cup of coffee or lotto ticket. Not only do they help provide this vital service, but the profits raised from these businesses are donated back to the hospital to enhance patient care.  

“Volunteer roles are determined based on the individual’s skills, experience, talents and availability,” says Archer. “We appreciate that people have busy lives, and we offer flexible scheduling including weekday, evening and weekend options that can vary anywhere from one to four hours weekly depending on the needs of the program.” 

Gananoque resident Penny Huntley, says her volunteer role at KHSC has been a fulfilling way to help make a difference in the lives of others.

“When I retired, I needed to find a sense of purpose that my previous career as a teacher had once provided, and it was initially decided that volunteering on the pediatric floor would be a great fit for me. Sometimes I would read stories and play games with children, other times I’d go for walks or do crafts. I was just there to offer some extra interaction with the children and a break to parents who might need it.

“Recently I have returned to working as a part-time supply teacher and my volunteer role has shifted to making appointment reminder calls to patients. The people in the Dermatology department that I work with have been so incredibly understanding and flexible with my volunteering schedule and have been very accommodating in allowing me to work around my supply teaching days. This has helped make volunteering at KHSC a very rewarding experience that has allowed me to give back to our community in a very satisfying way.”

KHSC has refined its application and orientation process to make the experience easier for interested individuals. To learn more about KHSC volunteer opportunities or to sign up for a virtual information session, visit www.kingstonhsc.ca/working-and-volunteering/volunteer-khsc or call 613-548-2359.