From dominos, cards and knitting to enjoying a sing-a-long or a spot of afternoon tea, the new therapeutic care companion volunteer programme at The James Cook University Hospital has something for everyone and is already proving a hit with our older patients.
The programme is packed full of activities seven days a week which take place in new day rooms within the hospital’s care of the elderly wards – set up thanks to generous donations from Interserve and JK Recycling.
Launched last week, with music from the hospital’s chaplaincy choir and crafts from the volunteers’ knitting circle, the day room activities have been welcomed by both patients and staff.
Debi McKeown, nursing sister in therapeutic care, said: “This is a pretty big deal for us and a lot of people have worked very hard over the past few months to make this happen.
“What we do clinically for our older patients on these wards is fantastic but now we can also look after their social wellbeing which will help to prepare people for when they go home.
“The new day rooms give patients a place to join in activities or enjoy a meal together. But for some they will just be a place to go to get some quiet time.”
Ward manager Sam Roberts said: “This really is going to give our patients a better hospital experience. It encourages patients to engage with staff and each other and provides something to occupy them rather than just being sat in a hospital bed.
“It’s really overwhelming to see how much the patients are getting out of this already!”
Patient Iris Walker added: “If I was at home I would be listening to music so this makes us all feel happy!”
The volunteers are joining forces with organisations across the community to come up with a varied activity programme of events and have already had support from Ageing Better Middlesbrough and St Alphonsus Primary School. They are also hoping to work with mima, the Dorman Museum and other community groups.
Future schedules include everything from pampering days to reading with local school children and reminiscing with war memorabilia.
Jane Wiles, associate director of nursing for community care at South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “These patients are one of our most vulnerable groups and this is a great opportunity to help keep them active. It’s about making sure patients get the best possible care from a social as well as a physical perspective.”