Uckfield League of Friends lockdown project support

With thanks to Uckfield League of Friends, Heads On were able to purchase kit and equipment to send to inpatients at the Beechwood Unit during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Beechwood Unit is a 15-bedded specialist ward located in Uckfield Hospital and provides high quality, short term inpatient care for people who have dementia. When lockdown was implemented, Beechwood had to change overnight; visiting was stopped and outside professionals were unable to enter the hospital to run groups and activities.

Staff at Beechwood provided Heads On with a list of resources for inpatients to use on the ward, in order to overcome challenges such as loneliness and boredom caused by the lockdown restrictions. The items for Beechwood were dementia-specific, and included robotic pets, radios and CD players, sensory equipment, and arts and crafts equipment, as well as nostalgic items like picture books of the past. The sensory resources provided included bird sound books - one patient said "these books are lovely, I love birds".

This equipment has made a real difference to patients. Jenny, an Occupational Therapist (OT) at Beechwood, said this: "The additional resources have greatly benefited our patients in many ways; providing cognitive and sensory stimulation, promoting use of fine and gross motor skills, opportunity to engage in meaningful occupation at an appropriate level of challenge, prevent boredom and associated agitation, and stimulate meaningful conversation and reminiscence.  The [music equipment] has greatly increased patient access to music which is greatly beneficial to this client group.  Often music really does bring people alive and has the ability to lift people's mood and reduce agitation.  It still amazes me that some people who have limited verbal communication still have the ability to sing along to familiar and favourite songs, which is lovely to see.  The robotic pets need a special mention as they are loved by lots of our patients, offering comfort and sensory stimulation."

As well as making an invaluable impact on patients, the resources funded by Uckfield League of Friends have impacted positively on staff. Jenny said that "having a greater range of resources available makes engaging patients so much easier." She went on to say that the equipment generates conversation, providing something for patients to watch even if they don’t want to join in themselves. Jenny also added that the support has lifted staff morale, and "made staff feel that the work they do is valued by others which has been fantastic during this difficult time.  It has been so nice to feel that we have been able to do something beneficial for our patients and that something positive has come from this awful and stressful time."

After using a picture book and conversation cards, a member of the therapy team said this of a patient: "that’s the best meaningful conversation I have seen *Patient* have with anyone". Talking about the bird sounds books, an OT said "it was so nice to see *Patient's* reaction to the bird sounds, as he suddenly appeared aware of his environment and me, looking up and giving great eye contact as if we had entered each other's world and connected with each other through listening to the same sound".

The resources Heads On were able to send to Beechwood with the help of Uckfield League of Friends have had such a positive impact on patient and staff wellbeing during an incredibly challenging time. We couldn't thank you enough.

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