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Award-winning care on offer for patients at Lichfield hospital

The work of staff on Anna Ward at Lichfield’s Samuel Johnson Community Hospital has won them the an award.

They received the Excellence in Patient Experience Award at the Burton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust PRIDE Awards, thanks to their work to host regular craft and music sessions to improve the environment for patients, including those with dementia…

These days there’s a real buzz around the day room at Anna Ward. Once upon a time it was a quiet place, and not always very popular with patients; now you are likely to find it filled with laugher and chatter. It’s become a hive of activity with patients, their relatives, staff members and volunteers united by creativity.

Sister Tina Luke, who launched regular craft and activity sessions on the ward in October 2012, explained: “Anna Ward can accommodate 26 patients – and on average we have around 13 with some degree of dementia. But at times that number has been as high as 20.

“Before we launched these sessions we had to have one-to-one care in place for some patients who would otherwise wander off, and risk falling or hurting themselves. Some dementia sufferers became very upset, depressed and disruptive.

“A hospital stay can be distressing and confusing for someone with dementia, but by providing emotional support, companionship and fun through activity sessions that engage and stimulate them, patients are much more relaxed and happy.”

An icing workshop on Anna Ward

An icing workshop on Anna Ward

Popular activities in recent months have included making fat balls for wild birds, creating table decorations, sewing, knitting, crocheting, decorating cakes and icing biscuits.

Staff also run a weekly bingo session, organise singalongs and stir memories of days gone by with old photographs and memorabilia.

“I am very proud of the staff who have gone far beyond the call of duty,” said Sister Luke. “Last year, when we started planning for Christmas, a couple of staff spotted an old fireplace in a roadside skip. After getting permission from the householder they climbed in to rescue the fireplace and bring it to the hospital to become the centrepiece for our Christmas display.”

Next to the fireplace sat a six foot tall Santa, sewn together from hundreds of individual knitted squares made at craft sessions over a period of six months: a labour of love that the patients and their families really appreciated.

Relatives are encouraged to become actively involved in the sessions, which are tailored to suit the different interests and abilities of groups of patients.

Lichfield resident Yvonne Price paid tribute to the staff for all their hard work and said her mother have really benefitted from the sessions.

Some of the creations from the Anna Ward workshops

Some of the creations from the Anna Ward workshops

“It’s given her a real boost,” she said. “She’s particularly enjoyed icing cakes and making gingerbread and on Valentine’s Day they made marzipan roses and chocolate hearts. She couldn’t stop talking about it.”

Sister Claire Wood said: “We hold a bingo session every Wednesday afternoon and we have one lady whose husband is a bingo caller. He comes in to the ward and they play bingo together each week and it brings back such happy memories for them both.”

Malcolm Wardle, whose wife is a patient on Anna Ward, said he could not fault the staff for the time and trouble they have put in to organising activities. He said he welcomed the chance for family members to go along and get involved with playing bingo and making crafts with their loved ones.

Sister Luke said: “One lady was knitting away in one of our sessions when her daughter came in. She had no idea her mum could knit as she’d not picked up knitting needles for 40 years.

“Another lady who showed real talent at our baking sessions turned out to have been a pastry chef years ago; another, we discovered, was once a seamstress. This was all information we would not have known without the sessions. It has enabled us to engage with our patients more effectively and give them a far more positive hospital experience.

“We have found that even the most disruptive patients become calmer and happier in the craft, music and memory sessions.

“Measurable benefits from the sessions have been a reduction in depression among dementia patients – evidenced through reduced referrals to the Community Psychiatric Nurse. There has been a reduction in falls and we’ve not had to provide one-to-one care for more than a year.

A photo display of some of the patient creations

A photo display of some of the patient creations

“I am very proud of all the staff for how they have embraced this project. They generously used their own money initially to buy craft supplies and spent time collecting and bringing in cardboard tubes and other household items that we could use to make table decorations.”

Now some items made during the sessions are sold off and raffled to raise money for the scheme, and the hospital’s League of Friends has also donated funds.

The hospital would love to hear from any local people who would like to volunteer materials – especially wool and card-making equipment – or who would like to run a craft session. They are also keen to acquire old photographs of Lichfield, Burton and Uttoxeter – the towns where most patients come from – to inspire nostalgic memories and discussions. The hospital can be contacted on 01543 412900.

A volunteer wrote this. Say thanks with a coffee.