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Rafael Ruiz: "Sometimes we want to be very interventionist and what is needed is emotional maturity"

Updated: Apr 3, 2023

Rafa Ruiz has been a volunteer at Fundación Cudeca for more than eight years, but in recent months he has taken on a new challenge: working as a volunteer in a public hospital as part of the iLIVE project. In this interview he tells us about his experience at the Hospital Marítimo.

What differences have you found between volunteering in the hospice and volunteering in in a public hospital like the Maritimo Hospital?

I have been at Cudeca for more than eight years, always in the inpatient unit and occasionally at home. The main difference is that Cudeca is a team in which treatment is approached in a holistic way for the person at the end of life. There is the social worker, the psychologist, doctors, nurses, the whole team goes together. So, when it comes to addressing the needs of the patient, Cudeca works in a more harmonious way, with more of a palliative care approach

On the other hand, at the Hospital Marítimo, what is noticeable is that the palliative care approach is still in its infancy. Because the unit is really less than two years old.

How do you transfer the philosophy of a hospital like Cudeca to a public centre?

I actually started a few months ago and other colleagues who had been there longer alerted me that the reception of volunteers was not yet fully accepted. But when I went there I saw that all the staff were very receptive to Cudeca staff, approaching accompaniment within the unit. I saw a great acceptance from the beginning. Other colleagues had planted the seed of acceptance of volunteering.

How has the reaction been from both patients and professionals?

It has been progressive. At the beginning we were very respectful of their boundaries, actively listening and waiting for them to open us doors and get used to our presence. With patients, everyone appreciates the fact that there is a volunteer. There are people who are at the end of their lives and are completely alone and isolated. The fact that a volunteer comes and offers them company and a listening ear,... they appreciate it enormously.

What do you get out of this experience?

For me it was a challenge, being a public hospital. I am very happy because we are raising awareness of the importance of volunteering in a different environment such as a public hospital. We are bringing this knowledge and attitude towards palliative care to the Maritimo hospital unit.

I think in palliative care sometimes we want to be very interventionist and what these situations need is a presence and an emotional maturity, active listening.

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