Picture of jan
 May 20, 2024

National Volunteer Week spotlight: Jan Moncrieff

This National Volunteer Week (20-26 May), we are thrilled to highlight the remarkable contributions of volunteers like Jan Moncrieff.

Jan is a volunteer who brings warmth and positivity to Day Oncology and the Wellness Centre every week. She has been volunteering since September 2023.

Dedicated individuals, like Jan, embody compassion, selflessness, and service, enriching the lives of patients, families, and staff. Join us as we explore her inspiring story, motivations, and the profound impact that she has on our community. 

What motivated you to volunteer at Austin Health? 

 I am a social worker, who has been working in welfare, in various positions for 30 years. Most of the time, it involved long hours and very stressful situations. When I took long term leave, I decided that I was not ready to retire, and I thought that volunteering would assist to keep up my skills. I could help people worse off than myself and continue to be useful in the community.

Why did you choose to volunteer in Day Oncology as a patient companion over other roles?

It appealed to me, as I have worked with and known women who have developed cancer of all types. I felt that I had the skills to provide support and understanding if needed.

Have there been any highlights or memorable moments that stand out for you from your time volunteering?

Every shift there are special moments with patients, getting to know them, sharing stories, listening if they wish to share their journeys, or just helping their time in oncology go as fast as possible.

Tell us about volunteering. Is it what you expected?

I was surprised how it made me feel, it was like volunteering was doing more for me than the patients. I wasn't sure if I would feel at ease with people so unwell, however the patients, on the whole, are friendly, and grateful for every little thing we do for them. My volunteering days are the best days of my week.

What do you bring to your volunteer role?

A positive mood, patience, helpfulness, good insight, compassion and empathy towards how the patients are feeling. An eagerness for supporting them and their family or friends who sit with them for hours until the treatment is completed. Having a good memory for faces, the patients love when you recognise them, and remember whether they have tea or coffee, and how they like it. Humour is a very important skill, knowing when to share a joke, or tell them something funny that has happened to me during the week. Observation skills, and a good rapport with the nursing staff is really important because the nurses are so busy and a patient may ask you something that needs to be addressed by the nurse.

What have you learnt through volunteering?

The obvious answer is that there is always someone worse off than yourself. Volunteering is a way to give back to the community around you, learn some new skills and understand how the medical team works. I have gained so much respect for each and every one of them.

What impact do you have on the community through volunteering? How do you know you make a difference?

I would like to think I am becoming a role model to others in the community and maybe hoping that others will think about volunteering in the future. I'm not sure how I make a difference, however, when patients thank you for every little thing you do to assist, and nurses say “Thank you, Jan, you are so kind”, I know I must be doing something positive.

What advice would you give someone looking to volunteer with Austin Health? 

Give it a go! It can bring you happiness, help give you a purpose, and may help you gain an understanding of how fantastic patients are, how people can respond during times of adversity, and how wonderful and caring the medical staff are day after day after day.