Wardipedia – 41. Shopping options

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Online, offline, mail order, clothes, groceries, snacks, personal care, music… there’s so much to buy and so many ways to shop. Shopping can be fun, interesting and is often a necessity but sometimes very difficult to do when in hospital, especially while on a section.

Mental health inpatients often feel very cut off from the outside world and have so many restrictions and losses. This makes the everydayness of buying stuff they need more complicated for but also more appreciated by patients than usual.

Wards come up with imaginative and flexible ways of enabling shopping to be as hassle-free as possible. And the Internet really helps, whether with getting a Chinese meal delivered or buying a new novel.

Ward examples

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  • A trolley with all sorts of goodies (including soft drinks and snacks, some toiletries and newspapers) comes to the ward every day. Patients can also request certain items to be brought in.
  • There’s a new shop run by volunteers 2 days a week in the reception of this modern, multi-purpose, ‘community care’ building.
  • The local WRVS is a godsend, always well stocked and affordable.
  • The Involvement Centre’s internet café sells hot and cold drinks and snacks
  • The hospital support / charity shop within the hospital grounds is utilised. It’s seen as a bit of an outing and patients get quite excited about trips. It has all sorts of bargains and knickknacks.
  • There are regular stalls in the main hospital canteen which sell bits and bobs: everything from underwear and watches to perfume to gifts. The ward staff are resourceful and think about what’s in the local area. Patients don’t have to (and shouldn’t feel pressured to) buy anything – it’s just sometimes nice browse.
  • Charities such as Loros sell second-hand books on stalls in the hospital corridor – patients often like to browse these.
  • Trips to the Costa in the main hospital are always a fave! This creates a sense of normally and REAL coffee with CAFFINE is always good!
  • The Trusts’ Therapeutic Community encourages one member every week to nominate themselves to oversee a weekly online food shop.
  • Patients are supervised when purchasing items online.
  • Fast food and takeaways are ordered online via websites like http://www.just-eat.co.uk/
  • Staff, volunteers, friends and family support anxiety / frail patients when walking to the local shop.
  • The hospital has a farm shop. The shop team (which includes trained patients) are involved in decisions regarding the range of products for sale, sourcing of local produce and the team manufacture of other products for sale, for example, the production of an assortment of chutneys and preserves has been well- received by patients and staff alike.
  • The ward has produced a brilliant map of all the hospital’s facilities as well as a map of a local shopping centre including directions and bus routes to it.



image58If you’re really stuck for space/personpower/time/everything, you could try:

  • Vending machines
  • Staff doing shop runs
  • Patients doing shop runs for other patients
  • Trolley – preferably a funky one rather than a gloomily clinical one
  • Trestle table sales in corridor/wards
  • Online options

Is there anything that can be done to help patients who don’t have enough cash with them:

  • Enable them to go home or to their bank if they’ve got money there that they could use
  • Encourage them to ask friends or family to lend or give them some money, if that won’t be problematic for their relationships
  • Ward/hospital/Friends’ group welfare fund
  • Petty cash
  • Get help from CPN or community worker

Patient examples

  • I love having a vending machine on the ward. My little treat is a can of coke and a snickers bar. It is something personal that I am in control of. It brings a little piece of normality into my day.
  • I would treat myself to a coffee and cake at the hospital canteen. There were often stalls to browse around as well.
  • Going into town with other patients and a member of staff was great. I really felt I had achieved something as I had not wanted to go into town for the last year.
  • We used to order group takeaways once a week to the ward and then would just chill and watch a DVD…they were good times!


Categories: Generosity, Wardipedia