Two volunteers from St John Ambulance participated in the Volunteer Swap in Riga and experienced a week at the Day Care Centre led by our Latvian member Sveta Jana Palidziba. At the centre, employees as well as volunteers care for elderly people with dementia, play games and improve their self-competences. Read the report by Lyn Hunter, who travelled to Latvia with Dave Hunter:
“My colleague Dave and I participated in the Volunteer Swap in Latvia because we are both retired nurses with many years of experience in St John Ambulance and a keen interest in the wider work of St John. I have already volunteered for the St John of Jerusalem Eye Hospital, but for Dave this was his first trip abroad for St John Ambulance.
Melānija Grundšteina, the Director of St John in Latvia, met us in Riga and took us to our hotel for the week. The next day we were met by Maris Sirmulis, the Manager of the Day Care Unit in Northern Riga where we were going to work.
The Care Centre is a nice building in the old Russian Quarter of Riga, where daycare is provided to 25 elderly men & women, aged from 65 to 97. The Centre opens daily Monday to Friday and the staff provides meals, social activities, health-related exercise classes, arts & crafts and social contact for the clients. During our week’s stay, Dave conducted exercise sessions related to the activities of daily living, that were great fun for the participants. In preparation for a client’s 70th birthday, I held a baking session with the residents where we made iced and fruit buns and a salad.
At the request of the staff, Dave & I held a very basic first aid session for the clients, covering choking and control of bleeding. We had planned more, but the content had to be translated into Latvian, Russian & German, which was a time-consuming process. When the week came to an end, we exchanged gifts and Thank You cards, translated into Latvian & Russian. We returned to the UK after taking a little time out for sightseeing.
The whole experience for us was one of great pleasure, we met wonderful people and worked with dedicated St John Members who provide, not first aid, but social care in their communities.
St John Latvia is only 18 years old and they run Day Care centres for Dementia Care, Alzheimer’s, Stroke & Elderly care. They do a fantastic job and provide much-needed care in a country where such care is not available.
Thank you, Johanniter International, for the opportunity to undertake this placement.”