Anna Mitchell, who is a meaningful activities coordinator and the inpatient team at Launceston Community Hospital were presented a 'providing valued activities to inpatients award' by representatives from the Community Hospital Association. The representatives were Sue Greenwood, Matron for Camborne Redruth Community Hospital and David Seamark, Vice President and Director.
The meaningful activities coordinator is an innovative new role. They encourage patients to take part in a wide variety of activities and social events to help keep them focussed, busy and occupied. This helps to reduce accidents, trips, and falls.
Anna Mitchell joined the Trust at the start of the pandemic as a general worker then progressed to health care assistant. Anna was then successful in her application to become a meaningful activities coordinator at Launceston Community Hospital.
“When I joined the Trust, I felt that some meaningful activities could be done with patients to help them through the uncertainty of the pandemic. By spending time with patients and taking the time to build relationships with them, and their families, I have been able to find out what their hobbies and interests are or might have been in the past. I try to adapt activities to suit their interests and minimise stress during their hospital stay.”
Activities include flower arranging, arts and crafts, singing, games, gardening and growing vegetables and even making mocktails to help increase hydration. Activities take place both inside and outside the ward and are sometimes themed on events such as the Queen’s Jubilee and annual celebrations such as Easter and Remembrance Day.
Sue Greenwood commented: “It was a delight and privilege to be able to present this award to Launceston Community Hospital. Anna, along with the support from her Matron Sarah Washer and the inpatient team, have championed this new role. It's had such a positive impact to the people we care for in our community hospitals. Huge congratulations.”
Since the role commenced, nurses and therapists have reported the new role has improved their working lives. This means that they can concentrate on more specialist tasks and technical duties, without worrying about the safety of their patients. Additionally, the hospital has seen a reduction in falls. The work has been that successful, that doctors are now socially prescribing time with a meaningful activities coordinator.
The role is also helping with nutrition and hydration by creating a social event for mealtimes, with music and conversation. “I join the patients for their meals and have been focussing on making mealtimes an occasion. This encourages positive eating habits and improves their appetites” adds Anna.
The role does not end when the patient leaves hospital. They are essential to creating a successful transfer of care, either back to the patient’s own home, or to a care home.
Anna explains: “The meaningful activities coordinator would have gained a wealth of information and knowledge about the patient from spending time doing activities. I get the patient ready to leave hospital, explain what will be happening next with their care and travel with them to their next destination. I share information about activities they have enjoyed and things which have helped prevent further illness. As I have created a strong bond with the patient, I stay for a while and make sure that they are happy and settled. I then check back a few weeks later to see how they are doing.”
Before the pandemic, Anna ran a bistro. When she had to shut her business, she joined the Trust as a general worker. “I had no experience of working in health or care before my role. However, it is something I absolutely love and have such a great passion for. I was so pleased to be asked to be the meaningful activities coordinator. It is a role I am thoroughly enjoying and embracing.”
Patients have sung praise for the role. Some feedback to the Trust has included:
- “The meaningful activities coordinators and other patient interaction helped me recover from my operation. I loved the time I spent in the garden.”
- “Nobody likes being in hospital, but I really enjoyed the activities.”
- “I loved the craft room, singing and making things. The meaningful activities coordinator creates a great atmosphere for everyone to enjoy.”
Matron Sarah Washer commented: “It was so great for the inpatient team to receive recognition for the innovative work they provided during the pandemic. I am immensely proud of them and the work they continue to do with meaningful activities and how beneficial they are for our patients.”
Currently the Trust plans to expand the role to all community hospitals within the Trust.