This has to be one of the very very very best examples of our members’ creativity- and of patients’. Here’s what Emily Barber (Lead Occupational Therapist, Northumberland, Tyne & Wear NHS Foundation Trust) sent me about their genius welcome bags. Huge thanks to Emily, colleagues and patients for letting us share this with the Star Wards’ community.
The idea for the Welcome Bags came about from the information we received for the Star Wards Festival Celebration Bags which we actively took part in. A group was formed whereby the Festival Bags were made by service users from the East and West Willows wards and were sent away to London.
During the festival bag activity group one of our patients asked if they could make their own bags to give to new patients on their ward to help them feel more welcome and dispel their own fears about being ill and away from home. The idea for ‘Welcome Bags’ was adopted.
It was suggested that we could scale down the original festival bag. Inside the bag would be placed a written information leaflet about the ward, a kind word greeting card, a timetable for on/off ward activities. Some patients would also put in a small sachet of hand cream, shampoo and hair conditioner, etc, thus making the bag a more personal item. The idea for the ‘Welcome Bags’ were created.
These bags are given to new patients from existing patients forming a patient’s mutual support system. This has helped with the well-being of patients who have been attending the welcome bag activity group. From the feedback that has been received they feel they are contributing not only to their own well-being but are showing the new patient that they care. Many new ideas continue to pour in from patients as to what could be put into the bags. Important telephone numbers, i.e. PALS, Carers Support Groups, and appointment cards.
Since starting this welcome bag activity group we have had patients approach us who have received a welcome bag and have requested to participate in creating their own bag to give to someone else who has just arrived on the ward. During one of our groups one of our patients had finished their bag and was so happy and proud of her achievement that it was suggested she keep the bag for herself. “No she replied, I’ve made this for someone else to help them feel better”.
The message we are simply saying from these bags is WELCOME!