Pilot Scheme Extends Emotional Support to Patients

So far, 1,500 volunteers have received training to partake in the scheme.So far, 1,500 volunteers have received training to partake in the scheme.

A pilot scheme to provide essential emotional support to patients has been in operation since May 2016 in 11 state-run hospitals across the country.

“Based on the scheme, volunteers from Iranian Red Crescent Society provide emotional support, companionship and self-care education to patients when doctors and nurses are stretched for time,” said Farahnaz Rafe’, IRCS deputy for volunteer affairs, Salamat News reported.

“The help volunteers offer should not be underestimated. Talking with patients, even for a little while, can have a major impact on their recovery—particularly if they have nobody to visit them,” she said.

So far, 1,500 volunteers have received training to offer partake in the scheme.

“Volunteers must pass a psychological assessment. Those selected will then regularly visit patients in hospitals,” she said.

“Successful experiences from similar programs implemented in twelve developing countries were used to prepare the national scheme,” Rafe said, adding that the plan will be implemented nationwide if the pilot scheme proves successful.

“Besides provision of companionship and emotional support to patients and their families, the volunteers receive training on helping patients in prevention of hospital-acquired infections during their stay at the healthcare facilities,” she added.

The national health sector suffers from critical shortage of nursing staff, and with the increasing number of hospital beds the problem has been compounded, necessitating training and employing of more staff to take care of patients in hospitals.

More than 7,000 hospital beds have been added in the past four years, 2,000 in the last fiscal (ended March 20).  

Based on 2016 official data, the average nurse-patient ratio stands at 1.5 per 1,000 and should at least double in order to achieve the minimum standards of nursing care. At present, there is a deficit of 140,000 nurses in hospitals across the country.

Providing the patients with education on self care by nurses can play an important role in reducing medication errors and preventing many health problems; “But given the of nurses in the hospitals the trained IRCS volunteers can dramatically improve the quality of treatment and healthcare services.”

The IRCS was established in 1922 and was admitted to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. It is headquartered in Tehran and is among the top five relief agencies in the world.

Since inception it has participated in a variety of public activities such as building maternity hospitals, setting up clinics offering free services, water supply to remote regions and constructing graveled roads.

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