I volunteer at a large district hospital. I go in twice a week: on Tuesdays I help in the Macmillan Centre and on Thursdays I’m a Response Volunteer, which means I’m based wherever I’m needed anywhere in the hospital. It’s different every time. Today I was helping at the main reception, mostly directing patients to where they wanted to go, and once, naughtily, taking on the role of porter pushing a big plump man with an amputated heel from the front entrance to the outpatients area. He was heavy and the strange, unwieldy portering chair was worse than pushing a Sainsbury’s trolley. I was lucky I didn’t crash into doors and run over people’s toes. It was only after I got back that someone told me those things are best controlled by dragging them behind you rather than pushing them in front. I’d never have guessed to do that, but as soon as you turn the chair round it glides smoothly over the floor in exactly the direction you need. Why don’t they design them with this in mind in the first place? Or is it something to do with weight-movement ratio that can’t be designed out? I don’t know, but if anyone had been watching me the first time they’d have had their hearts in their mouths. However I made it without incident and the patient was chatty, and appreciated me going v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y. Coming into hospital is a worrying time for many people and it’s nice for them to have a friendly guide. The most frequent place I took people to was phlebotomy. It’s always one of the busiest departments. Lots of blood tests being done…

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