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Activity boxes will help tackle boredom

Activity Boxes

Caption: Charlotte Buckland-Harriss, 33, a patient on the Stroke Unit (centre), “wears” a sensory band and shows some of the other contents of the activity boxes. She is with Steph Baker and William Westbrooke.

23 October 2017

Activity boxes are being distributed to virtually all wards and departments at Colchester General Hospital to give patients an opportunity to alleviate boredom.

Each box contains a variety of activities, including colouring books, word search books, board games, pens, pencils, arts and crafts materials, playing cards and dominoes.

They also include sensory bands – also called “twiddle muffs” – which are knitted hand muffs, sometimes decorated with zips, buttons, beads, ribbons or tassles, which can provide visual and tactile stimulation, comfort and distraction.

The activity boxes are the idea of Steph Baker, Learning Disability Hospital Liaison Nurse Specialist, and were inspired by a patient she supported during a three-month stay in Colchester General Hospital earlier this year.

“This woman had no family or friends and no visitors and got extremely bored, which resulted in her becoming clinically depressed,” she said.

“Clearly, some patients are so ill that they are not really up for much activity at all but others, especially those who are getting better, are keen for things to do to fill their time.

“Although I’m a learning disability nurse, these activity boxes will be distributed to all adult wards and virtually all departments, including outpatients, radiology and the clinical decisions unit and can be used by any patient.

“I’m hopeful that they will in a small way help to improve the experience that patients have of our hospitals.”

Mrs Baker said that, initially, 10 activity boxes were being distributed but her aim was to increase that number to a total of 30.

All wards would have one with the exception of the Children’s Ward which has its own team of play specialists and its own playroom, she added.

Also, it is hoped to distribute them to Essex County Hospital and to areas at the community hospitals in Clacton, Halstead and Harwich where Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust provides services, such as maternity and outpatient departments.

Much of the material for the boxes has been donated by the Community Learning Disability Health Team run by Hertfordshire Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust.

Some of the materials have been funded by the Colchester Hospitals Charity (CoHoC) and Mrs Baker’s friends and families.

Hospital volunteer, William Westbrooke, helped to put the activity boxes together and has assisted with distributing them at Colchester General Hospital.

* Anyone wishing to give money to buy materials for the activity boxes can do so by making out a cheque to “CoHoC 805G” and posting it to: Fundraising Office, Villa 10, Colchester General Hospital, Turner Road, Colchester CO4 5JL. Please include a note saying the donation is for activity boxes.

If you would like to donate items for the boxes, they can be sent to: Steph Baker, Safeguarding Office, Gainsborough Wing, Colchester General Hospital, Turner Road Colchester CO4 5JL.

If you want to discuss any potential donation, please call Steph Baker on 01206 742160.