Outreach Activities in Hospitals
The Weald & Downland Living Museum’s Outreach Team has visited many patients, their visitors and also staff in both Worthing and St. Richard’s Hospitals.
Team members are ‘Dementia Friends’ and particularly enjoy working with those with Dementia as well as anyone else that they meet on their visits, and are able to adapt what they do however things are for those they meet at any particular moment in time. The Outreach Officer has been a fully trained volunteer at St. Richard’s Hospital for almost five years.
What Might We Do?
As the Weald & Downland Living Museum (based in the South Downs National Park in Singleton) is a place where the buildings, lives and activities of ordinary people who lived in rural locations over the last thousand years, all of the activities have a link to what the Museum is about.
In Boxgrove Ward (St. Richards) or on Buckingham Ward (Worthing) for example, a member of the team has set up an attractive table with a variety of artefacts for people to be brought to and explore. Fresh flowers and herbs (the scent is always commented on) and at least one ‘activity’ that people can either do themselves or be assisted with will have been brought by the team member/s.
The team will always bring materials about the Museum for people to enjoy looking at (maybe a picture of a horse for example) and also as a stimulus for conversation with visitors later in the day.
The team will try to encourage some engagement with what’s on the table, explaining why it is there, but that’s very much patient/visitor/staff member led and finding a connection for each person is very much down to the skill of the Museum’s Outreach Team listening and exploring ways in which a patient might be encouraged to engage.
Encouraging physical activity (for example holding things, trying to work out how things worked and making things), conversation between group members and picking up on experiences, skills or expertise is a key part of the sessions as is fun and laughter.
These moments may not be rooted in rural history but they are a starting point for people who are able to have a really positive experience outside of their health on any one day. This is empowering and values them as an individual and, hopefully, connects them with other patients on the ward in an authentic social context.
The Outreach Team also visits bedsides with some of the items from the table, engaging in conversation and encouraging dialogue with patients and also visitors and staff as appropriate as they go.
This is especially powerful as some patients are often anxious or unwilling to visit the table and yet they are willing to engage in something when someone approaches them gently and asks them if they’d like to smell a flower or whether they know what something is or invites them to have something made for them (free of charge!).
Leaving patients with something – whether it be a small corn dolly or a muslin bag with herbs – that they’ve made or helped to make in some way is an important part of the visit and is much appreciated by anyone on the ward.
For further information, please contact the Museum’s Outreach team:
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