By Andrea Boyd @AndreaBoydAHPMH
Occupational Therapist and Project Lead (NHS Ayrshire and Arran)
In July 2013, I started a new seconded post with my colleague Gillian Agnew (Occupational Therapist). Our post was split between a new community rehabilitation development team and a slow stream rehabilitation ward for older people. The ward environment was something I did feel anxious about, having not been in an acute setting for more than 12 years. So donning the uniform the adventure began!
It was during my ward experience that the idea of ‘Pocket Ideas’ came to mind. As I’m also an ‘Activity Trainer’, I really wanted to consider a way of involving meaningful activity as part of the rehabilitation process, as the main source of stimulation in the ward was the television.
Our ‘Activity Team’ was formed on 1/8/13 comprising of the following team members; Jean Knox (Technical Instructor), Elaine Tizzard (Technical Instructor), Darrell Line (Technical Instructor), Gillian Agnew (OT) and myself. As a team we wanted to consider how to involve staff on the ward in using meaningful activity without increasing current workloads.
The concept of ‘Pocket Ideas’ was a really simple idea. A book prepared with ideas to start a conversation, and prompts for discussion which may take no more than 5 minutes. These conversations can take place whilst working with an individual in the ward, as the book is very portable, or in a group situation.
We are a fantastic team, and with all our creative minds together ‘Pocket Ideas…for a moment in time’ not only was an idea, but very soon became a reality. We involved ward staff in meetings, so that they could contribute their own ideas. The philosophy of the book reinforces how passionate our ‘Activity Team’ is about the project, and that is; “Every moment we have to offer older people in meaningful experiences is valuable, and essential in our professional practice. It promotes increased self-esteem, reduces risk of low mood, and empowers people to achieve their own person centred goals.” (Pocket Ideas, 2013)
By December 2013 our prototype was developed with the help of Stephen Palmer (Medical Photography). Our ‘Activity Team’ developed a simple evaluation tool for staff to use, so that relevant feedback could be documented. The pilot was successfully completed in January 2014. The ward sister and ward staff really supported our idea, as did our Occupational Therapy service leads.
The results of our pilot was overwhelmingly positive, and it highlighted that no additional time was required to use ‘Pocket Ideas’, it demonstrated positive interactions between staff and patients, promoted person centred care, encouraged meaningful experiences and enhanced the quality of life in the ward environment.
Some of the quotes gained from the evaluation included;
“Thank you for sitting with me…we talked, laughed and remembered things…and that felt good.” (Patient)
“At first I thought it wouldn’t work, but it does…it’s so simple, everyone is using it, and so many conversations have started, and staff have really bonded…please don’t take it away.” (Ward sister)
“Everyone gets involved and everyone gets talking.” (Nursing Assistant)
During this incredible journey our ‘Activity Team’ has been supported by the Art Co-ordinators for the new hospital at the Ayrshire Central site, Irvine. Inspired by the project they have given priority to assist with further development of the project, and plan to raise £10,000 to support this.
Since these initial meetings, an endowment bid has also been successful within Ayrshire and Arran NHS. This will allow the prototype of our project to be professionally printed, to plan an official launch, and so that I can be ‘project lead’ for the next 6 months without any clinical commitments.
The ‘icing on the cake’ for our ‘Activity Team’, was being notified that we were finalists at the Scottish Dementia Awards 2014. On 25th September we all arrived at the Marriott Hotel in Glasgow for the Awards Ceremony. When our category was announced, it was a tense moment, and I was almost afraid to look! It was then announced that our project had won ‘Best Acute Care Initiative’, and we just couldn’t believe it! What an amazing moment!
Our team are so proud of our award, and it will stand us in good stead as our journey continues. We have had so much support from Kerry Gilligan (OT manager), OT Principles, Board members and many staff across Ayrshire and Arran. I know that I speak on behalf of the ‘Activity Team’ in thanking everyone who has not only supported us, but embraced our ideas.
The experience we have gained has shown us that from ‘little seeds great ideas grow’, and that sometimes we just have to believe in our ideas, nurture them and watch them grow into great possibilities. I would encourage anyone to embrace their positive ideas, and make it happen!
To finish I have one final thought for us all to keep in mind when we think of a ‘moment in time’;
Watch out for our launch next Spring to get the opportunity to see our final ‘Pocket Ideas’ tool, and hear about lots of other great work taking place across Ayrshire.