Following the relaxation of lockdown measures last month, patients from Longreach House in Redruth are looking forward to getting back to their weekly walking group.
Led by Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (CFT) senior occupational therapist John Galvin, the ward’s Thursday walk to nearby Carn Brea can once again get underway. The group was established as part of a national green walking initiative led by the Centre for Sustainable Healthcare.
Billy*, a patient who has previously enjoyed taking part in the group, said, “It’s really peaceful walking through the village and is much more enjoyable than just going to the shop and back. I enjoy the walk.”
John added, “Getting off the ward and out into the open is really therapeutic for our patients – and this is definitely reflected in what they tell us when we return from our walk.
“Being outside and off the ward with a therapist and other patients allows us to relax and for conversations to flow much more naturally. Stepping away from the clinical environment, being focussed on where we are going and our surroundings allows people to reflect on their experiences and put things into perspective. As a therapist, it also gives me a better opportunity to get to know my patients and what tools I can use to motivate them and promote their recovery.
“As well as helping to improve people’s mental health, the walks also improve fitness and help people to connect socially.”
The success of Longreach House’s green walking group has been published as a case study on the Centre for Sustainable Healthcare’s website. John shared the findings of his group at the launch event of a green walking recovery guide which was opened by president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, Dr Adrian James.
The findings from the local study formed the foundation of the green walking mental health recovery guide, which is available online.
“It has been a real privilege to be a part of this project. Above all it has really benefited our patients. The importance of getting off the ward for fresh air and space cannot be underestimated and it's really exciting that we have contributed to the guide,” said Lydia Lawson, professional lead occupational therapist.
“We now plan to expand the project to our other inpatient site and we are keen to run similar groups in our community services, so people can to continue to access green walking groups when they leave hospital.”
Leanne Griffin, ward manager said: “This project has provided an amazing opportunity for the patients to engage in physical activity organised by very enthusiastic members of staff.
“Patients have missed the weekly walk during the pandemic and are keen to restart it this week. Good physical health and taking part in physical exercise has a huge impact on our mental wellbeing and is something we encourage at every opportunity.”
Longreach House continued to provide the weekly walks up until lockdown in March, but the pandemic hasn’t stopped them from participating in daily activity. During June, patients and staff took part in a virtual 30 day step challenge from Land’s End to John O’Groats to raise money for much needed sports equipment.