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Filling a void that families aren’t always able to

Pictured above: Heather Ready, Volunteer and Serena Bourns, Charge Nurse

Pictured above: Heather Ready, Volunteer (left) and patient Mike Gilray.

When Heather Ready retired six years ago, she wanted to do something more for the community. She got involved in many programs initially but quickly decided to focus her energy and volunteer at the places that bring her joy, which are at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton, Theatre Aquarius, and Around the Bay Road Race in Hamilton.

Before retirement, Heather worked with seniors who have physical disabilities, which has helped her in her current roles as a volunteer. The volunteer process at St. Joe’s began with a simple application form, and Heather was quickly matched with volunteering in the Diagnostic Imaging Department. Here she greets and assists patients to their appointments, ensuring that they are registered and checked in, and assists with wayfinding for those who come in for appointments or visits in other areas of the hospital.

Heather is also one of the first volunteers in the CARE Program (Comfort, Assistance, Resources, and Engagement) on the Surgical/Musculoskeletal Inpatient Unit. This volunteer program is designed to improve the hospital experience of patients. Volunteers support patient independence and optimum physical/cognitive functioning, while engaging in activities to stimulate and entertain patients.

“The population on this unit is mostly geriatrics, and loved ones can’t always be here with the patient,” says Serena Bourns, Charge Nurse. “The team is very appreciative to have Heather help on the unit to provide the patient engagement that staff isn’t always able to provide during busy times.”

Pictured above: Heather Ready, Volunteer (left), and Serena Bourns, Charge Nurse

The staff on the unit communicate to volunteers through a whiteboard system to let them know which patients need assistance. From getting them a warm blanket, to bringing them down to Tim Horton’s to get a coffee – volunteers provide support with these small tasks that make a big difference to those in hospital.

“I enjoy the interesting people. You meet some wonderful people, and if you can make their day just a little bit better, it makes my day,” describes Heather. “I like helping other people and it’s very rewarding to see a smile on their face.”

Nancy Della Maestra, Nurse Manager of the Musculoskeletal Unit, positively describes Heather as someone who always takes the initiative in what needs to be done for the patients on the unit. “Heather fills a void that families are not able to fill. She does a lot of the things that if family were here, they would be doing, but they can’t always be here.”

You, too, can make a difference like Heather in the lives of others at St. Joe’s. We are currently seeking adult volunteers, with weekday daytime availability, for various programs at all three of our campuses.•

Contact Katie Ferguson at 905-522-1155 ext. 23774 or visit to apply today.

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