Involvement of volunteers in ward based patient activities in Plymouth

ContactSarah Carlson, Matron Healthcare of Elderly, Derriford Hospital, Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust
AddressDerriford Rd, Crownhill, Plymouth, Devon, PL6 8DH

What is being done?

Bracken ward in Derriford Hospital has established a small activity room within the ward area which is furnished with a dining table and chairs, easy chairs, small television, CD player and a range of memorabilia (including a Memory Box). Volunteers recruited to work with people living with dementia attend the ward on a twice weekly basis to support patients in the activity room. Patients are helped to the room by the nursing staff and the volunteers undertake small activities such as listening to music, playing cards, reading magazines, reviewing items to stimulate memory or discussion.

Volunteers have been specifically recruited, trained and supported for this initiative, one member of the team is a retired healthcare assistant and so is used to supporting older people in hospital.  They work closely with the nursing team and attend the ward on a regular basis, thus have established some good relationships with patients in hospital.

What is new and different?

Within the acute hospital setting, most wards no longer have a day-room facility for patients to get away from their bedsides. The small activity room is a safe area which has been made homely with furniture and furnishings, creating a relaxing environment for patients. The use of volunteers in this specific activity is different from the usual patient visiting as it stimulates small group discussion and interactions between patients.

The integration of the use of Memory Boxes has enabled a focus on reminiscence and discussion amongst patients.

What difference this seems to be making

Patients enjoy the volunteer sessions and have often visited the activity room independently after having used the room with the support of the volunteer. The volunteer discussions help break-up the monotony of the day in hospital, particularly for patients who do not get many visitors.

Plans for taking the project forward

Volunteers are being recruited to the other Healthcare of Elderly wards, with a plan to roll this scheme out to these areas.