While we’ve all had to ride out the Covid wave and deal with the heartache and uncertainty it has caused, it’s also important to consider the effect it has had on Launceston Hospital’s long-term patients.
With families unable to visit their loved ones, a lack of friendly faces appearing at the front door each week, and everyone suddenly wearing masks to cover their faces, it has been a confusing and bleak time for many hospital patients.
Anna Mitchell, the lead meaningful activities coordinator at Launceston Hospital - along with the Meaningful Activities Coordination Programme team - has been working hard to deliver fun, immersive experiences to all hospital patients since May 2021 in the aim of keeping spirits high while keeping them mentally and physically active.
So far, the scheme has been supported by Launceston Foodbank, who have supplied clothes and toiletries to patients; DS Smith, who created some planters and have offered to supply a workforce to paint them; Margaret Parnell and Wendy Warren who held a cake and plant sale which purchased high-rise planters for patients in wheelchairs to access; Tesco Launceston’s Community Champion Shelley Vanstone who donated wood paint, toiletries at Christmas and plants; B&M Launceston with plants; Greggs Launceston who have donated delicious doughnuts for the staff to enjoy; and Phillip Warren Butchers who delivered pasties to the hospital on St Piran’s Day.
As well as this, Launceston Town Band attended the hospital last summer to lead some musical activities and played the Last Post on Remembrance Sunday, and were joined by the Launceston branch of the Royal British Legion who chatted to the patients. Launceston Lions have shown support since the start of the programme and delivered ‘Trauma Teds’ to hospital patients and children in the MIU.
Lifton Primary School donated a piano which was delivered for free by ‘Dun-Can With a Van’. Upon the piano’s arrival, a patient’s face lit up and she began to play beautifully for everyone - a talent brought back to life by an act of kindness and community support.
The team are currently planning events for the Queen’s Jubilee in June and will be having another plant sale in May to help fund future projects.
With funding from Launceston Rotary Club and Cornwall Councillors Jon Conway and Adam Paynter, the hospital has been able to decorate its day rooms, with the creation of a craft room in the ladies’ ward and a therapy room in the men’s ward. All of this boosts the creativity, mental stimulation and socialisation of patients.
Anna, lead coordinator, said: “It’s all about community and everyone helping. It’s been such a positive thing to come out of the last two years.
“The activities are designed solely for the patients, with many of those being our level 3 care patients who have conditions such as dementia. The activities stop them from escalating and could be anything from nail painting, knitting or gardening. We also work on nutrition and often make mocktails so they can pretend they’re on the beach, which is lovely!”
Since the programme started in 2021, the hospital has seen a massive reduction in the number of falls overall, and zero falls whilst patients have been under the care of the Meaningful Activities Coordinators. The team works closely with the families of patients and are often involved with patient transfers to provide a friendly, familiar face during an often confusing or anxious time.
“We’ve got that time to spend with them,” Anna said. “You get to know the patients and really find out how they respond to different things.
“This whole process has been amazing and the feedback we get is fantastic. The support we’ve been getting from the community is wonderful, so a massive thank you to everyone. We want to get everyone on board to help, it’s helped us to have a massive connection with the community.
“We want to thank everyone so much for the support we’ve received.”
If you’re a local business and would like to donate something for the patients at Launceston Hospital to use for activities, get in touch with Anna on email@example.com