A near-death experience shaped a Westmead champion
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Posted 22 Jan 2017
Graham Brown, buggy driver and consumer representative



After a brush with death, Graham Brown, survived and wanted to do something to ‘give back’ to Westmead Hospital. He started by volunteering as a Westmead Hospital visitor buggy driver and last year became a Westmead Redevelopment consumer representative.

“I nearly died two years ago from two abscesses on the brain. I’d temporarily lost part of my sight and use of my left arm. Due to the professional care from the doctors and nurses, including the Post Acute Community Care (PACC) team, I completely recovered and was so grateful. I became a new man wanted to do something different to pay the hospital back,” said Graham.

In 2015 Graham trained as a volunteer buggy driver and in June 2016 took over as convenor of the program. He’s responsible for coordinating the rosters and training new drivers.

“The buggy service is for visitors at Westmead Hospital who can’t walk properly and would like assistance to clinics and lifts. We have four routes and answer around 100 queries each day, as people stop us to ask for directions,” he continued.

Both buggies take 80-100 trips each day and from July to December 2016 Graham calculates they took 10,500 trips with passengers.

There are around eight volunteer buggy drivers, however, Graham would like to recruit more volunteers to help fill the 5-day roster.

“As a Westmead Redevelopment consumer representative, I have a voice. I can share insights learned through buggy driving and want to improve the experience of people visiting Westmead. People are often upset and stressed. It can be very challenging to understand signage then find your way to a clinic or lift when you’re in that state.”

Graham has participated in a number of Westmead Redevelopment consumer workshops along with the architects, staff from Westmead Hospital and The Children’s Hospital at Westmead. These events focus on co-designing patient, family, carer and visitor spaces. He has contributed to discussions a precinct-wide patient transport master plan and a Westmead-wide way-finding strategy. He’s written a detailed document summarising frequently asked questions faced by his fellow buggy drivers and volunteers.

Would you like to be a buggy driver?

To become a volunteer buggy driver you need a current driver’s licence and to pass the WSLHD volunteer registration process followed by a short interview with Graham. Training takes around half a day with most volunteers driving confidently by the end of their first shift.

Contact the project office if you would like to know more information.

Want to become a Westmead Redevelopment consumer representative?

Contact the project office. Read more at our Community Participation page.

Consumer workshops and events will continue throughout the project. We’re always looking for members.

Consumer feedback and 2017 work ahead

Download summary document that outlines feedback received from consumers and community members in 2016.

Download the summary sheet outlining key focus areas partnership with consumers in 2017.