“I do it because I hope it means transport will be one less thing a patient has to worry about,” explains Enda Bourke who has been a volunteer driver with the Irish Cancer Society for the past four years, dropping and collecting patients to their hospital appointments across the county.
After retiring in 2012 Mr Bourke said he had planned to get involved with the volunteer service after a recruitment campaign came to Thurles looking for drivers. After the application and vetting process was complete, Mr Bourke was given six months driver training. He now covers four hospitals including CUH, UHL, Waterford University Hospital and Tullamore General.
“You do on average of two drives a month depending on the demand and you have all age groups availing of the service from people in their 20's to the elderly.”
“Some patients might have to go for treatment every week and you commit yourself to that person for the day, collecting them at their house, drop them off outside the door of the hospital and wait until they are ready,” adds Mr Bourke, who is also the president of Special Olympics Thurles.
“Going for treatment can be extremely stressful and if organising transport is taken care of then that's one less thing to worry about,” he says adding that all volunteer drivers need to be punctual, confidential, sensitive and own a full clean licence.
Uptake for the service increased by 66 percent in Tipperary last year as more patients learned of the service. A total of 659 journeys were made by 57 Irish Cancer Society volunteer drivers from Tipperary covering a total distance of 108,652km .
The Volunteer Driver Service provides transport free of charge to patients undergoing chemotherapy treatments in 21 hospitals nationwide. Patients that would like to avail of the service or would like further information can contact their healthcare professional to refer them to the service. Alternatively they can call the Volunteer Driver Service team on (01) 2310 522, email firstname.lastname@example.org
The Irish Cancer Society’s Care to Drive service is currently recruiting volunteer drivers in Tipperary. Anyone who is interested in getting involved and becoming a volunteer can contact 01 2316 642. or email email@example.com
Don't forget to support Daffodil Day on March 24th. The Irish Cancer Society needs to raise over €3m to continue funding vital services and important cancer research.