What it takes to be a hospice employee has certainly been tested and altered by recent events, but the fundamental attitude of providing outstanding care has remained very much at the forefront for all our staff. Our wonderful Therapeutic Activities Assistant, Sue Ney has played a pivotal role in the launch of our new virtual Wellbeing service. We caught up with Sue to talk about the service, her role and embracing positivity and creativity…
I’ve been working at the hospice as a Therapeutic Activities Assistant for 5 years in October. Prior to working here I had spent a lot of time reading about the impact creativity has on people’s emotional wellbeing and how it can help us through challenging times. This led me to wish that I had pursued a career in art therapy. So, when I spotted this vacant role at St Andrew’s I couldn’t believe my luck! They were looking for someone who would bring a diverse range of skills to assist in the provision of activities and fortunately I had experience and qualifications that ticked every box. I am thrilled to be part of a team that approaches care from a holistic point of view and embraces the positive impact of creativity.
“I am thrilled to be part of a team that approaches care from a holistic point of view and embraces the positive impact of creativity.”
In a pre-Covid world my regular duties are split between the inpatient unit and Wellbeing Services.
As part of the Wellbeing programme I am responsible for providing group activities from arts and crafts, gardening and games, to arranging entertainment and to arranging animal assisted therapy, and directing a nativity each year performed by staff members! These are all supported by a wonderful volunteers and nursing assistants.
For the inpatient unit I stock an activity trolley with entertaining materials and work one-to-one with patients to help them create special keepsakes to gift to family and friends. The inpatient team have embraced memory work too, and now help patients make some beautiful fingerprint bookmarks.
I can also support the social work team in facilitating family sessions, and am sometimes asked to aid with events within the hospice that are open to the wider community.
“It is amazing that we are mainly funded by our community. Definitely something for us all to be proud of.”
It is so fantastic to be part of an organisation that has such a positive impact on all those who access its services. In addition, it is amazing that we are mainly funded by our community. Definitely something for us all to be proud of.
“I learnt ways I could support the nursing team in providing patient care, helping with mealtimes and stocking cupboards and spending time talking to patients.”
When we first went in to lockdown all Wellbeing service groups and activities came to a halt. I worked between the unit and covering reception. Infection control measures meant the activities I could offer patients were greatly reduced. So, instead I learnt ways to support the nursing team. It was lovely spending time talking to patients, knowing that they must otherwise have felt quite isolated when full restrictions were implemented, although the masks definitely did make that more difficult.
“Working more closely with other teams has helped forge even stronger working relationships and a better understanding of each other’s roles.”
The situation lead me to look for new ways to support patients and staff, and -with the help of our communications team - created downloadable guides for capturing memories, creating keepsakes and using art for relaxation.
Over the last few months we have embraced technology, and been creative in the way we can provide services that are of benefit to those who may have previously found access to the hospice difficult. It has given me the opportunity to create new resources which I hope to build on. Also, working more closely with other teams has helped forge even stronger working relationships and a better understanding of each other’s roles.
“Stepping well outside my comfort zone; I produced videos demonstrating crafts that support both online groups and the downloadable guides.”
I have been heavily involved in shaping the new remote Wellbeing service; offering group work over Zoom, creating resources for patients to access, and delivering materials for them to use in the craft group. Zoom has been a bit of a challenge for some, but it provides a wonderful opportunity for patients to get together at a time when that isn’t physically possible. During one group we even created a poem about our Zoom experience!
Stepping well outside my comfort zone; I produced videos demonstrating crafts that support the online groups and the downloadable guides. A new newsletter for Wellbeing patients was also launched this summer which includes information, guidance, and fun activities. We have set up a private Facebook group specifically for our patients as well.
The new approach has been greatly received, but I cannot wait for the day that groups can be safely back in the building! Nothing beats being physically in an inclusive social group enjoying interaction and activity, and having help on hand if needed.
If you would like to help our staff like Sue provide care to our patients, please consider making a donation - https://www.standrewshospice.com/st-andrews/get-involved/donate/