Dechreuodd Owen Griffkin fel hwylusydd newydd y Cyngor Cleifion ym mis Ionawr 2018. Mae'n ein diweddaru ni am gyfarfodydd diweddar.
Mae diweddariadau blaenorol gan ei ragflaenydd Philip Moisson.
Felindre Ward garden - before improvements were made
As February crashes into view and Spring edges closer we are continuing to deliver Patients’ Council meetings for people staying on the Felindre Ward virtually through video conferencing. The benefit of this is increased meetings, so we look to hold two a month at present.
We held the first meeting of the year last week, and it was very interesting to hear how people on the ward are coping with Covid restrictions. Cooking activities have to be done one-to-one with an OT so this allows people to cook a dish of their choice, and there are still Pottery lessons happening regularly. There was positive feedback about staff again and concerns raised about having people with varying degrees of mental health distress on the ward. Unfortunately due to the nature of an acute mental health ward this is unavoidable at present but we can help look at ways and ideas to mitigate this in the future.
Facilities wise, the smoking shelter is now ready for use, and this should be happening soon but unfortunately a long-standing issue with the windows has not been fixed yet. The outside areas have had a good tidy-up by staff and people on the ward ahead of planned gardening projects for this year, and we had another good meeting with the Green Minds Project that is running in Brecon. The next stage is to look for funding for a project that could happen in the grounds next to the ward that would allow people on the ward the opportunity to get involved in gardening activities whilst on the ward. We will be consulting about how this will look so if you have been on the ward before and would like to get involved in this consultation please email owen.griffkin(at)pavo.org.uk.
Felindre Ward garden after improvements, including new smoking shelter
We have continued to hold Patients' Council meetings during the Covid restrictions by moving the meetings online. This has allowed us to increase the frequency of planned meetings to fortnightly. There haven't been many issues related to Covid-19 raised, and the subject matter has remained as it was before restrictions began. People have reported less opportunities for exercise and we are continuing to work with the Health Board on the viability of gym equipment on the ward.
We have also set up a link with the Green Minds Ecotherapy project based at Brecon Mind, and the Occupational Therapist will take people to Brecon to take part in the sessions there. We are also exploring the possibility of extending the project so that it takes part on the hospital site which would be ideal.
There is a permanent Psychotherapist on the ward now, and they are conducting regular mindfulness sessions and promoting restful sleep, without tablets where possible, and one-to-one EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) sessions which are proving very effective with patients.
The plan for the future of Patients' Council is exploring how we continue as normality returns and hopefully continuing to offer online meetings alongside face-to-face meetings for a blended service that is flexible to people's needs.
It's working well meeting online. You still get to have quite a long chat with the people on the ward. Some of the recent issues include:
- The view from the window wasn't great as the fence in the garden was poorly maintained. The area has now been turned over to an Occupational Therapy Gardening Group. We're looking at partnering with local organisations on this project. We're also hoping to raise some charitable funds for raised beds and a greenhouse which would be great.
- Someone else said that they really like it on the ward. "It's very clean and the staff have been brilliant. Nice room to sleep in." And they enjoyed the available activities.
- From the Suggestion Box on the wall (which can be used at any time between Patients' Council meetings) came a request for access to music.
- One of the patients asked about volunteering in the garden after being discharged - so there is a volunteer pathway being set up
- Another patient said "I cannot overstate the amount of work these people do for me, they don't get paid enough."
- The pottery sessions have restarted - the tutor is now coming back onto the ward and that's been a really helpful activity for everyone there.
- People have been asking for lighter, more appropriate books to be available on the ward so this is something we're working on.
In future we may have an "on-demand" or "appointment" service as well as returning to face-to-face meetings once it is safe to do so as it has been good having online meetings. This also makes it easier for us to expand the Patients' Council service to other areas in Powys.
One of our Patients' Council volunteers Rhydian Parry added:
- Money has been approved for gardening equipment which opens up another opportunity for an activity for patients.
- There’s also a new microwave and new table and chairs in the OT kitchen.
- There’s now a locum psychologist on the ward for three months doing three days a week to see how it goes. They’re doing group sessions and 1 to 1 sessions as well as mindfulness.
- Had a comment that the doors bang a lot, keeping people on edge. Sharp sudden noises aren’t good.
- Film nights now happen in the games room which is good as we’ve had quite a few comments in the past about there being a lack of activities at night and on weekends which can lead to boredom.
- I’ve also donated some Xbox 360 games to the ward on behalf of patients council as they had a console but only had one game. I’m going to ask around my friends to see if anybody else has suitable games to donate as well.
An update from Rhydian Parry, PPC volunteer, this month:
As you can imagine Patients’ Council hasn’t been able to meet with patients on the ward with COVID going on. We have secured a laptop for use to hold virtual meetings, however we encountered some technical issues while trying to use it for the first time a couple of weeks ago. We think this is down to the ward having a poor internet connection. We did get some feedback through paper forms that patients filled in and these have been really useful. The ward has been quiet over the lockdown period, usually below half capacity and anecdotal evidence (eg from the Occupational Therapist and the forms filled in by patients) shows this has had a positive effect on people’s wellbeing.
The ward is eligible to apply for additional funding through Frontline Leadership Support Service to enhance the wellbeing of NHS staff, volunteers and patients impacted by COVID19. Patients’ Council was consulted on this and we agreed with the OT that gardening equipment and raised flower beds/planters would be a priority as this comes up a lot during meetings. Electronic devices for better communication between patients and family and friends, or care coordinators who cannot come to the ward, was identified as another area that could benefit from funding. Paints and brushes to do a mural and card making supplies were also mentioned.
General ‘successes’ include getting a smoking shelter installed in the quadrant area and expediting repairs on the OT kitchen and broken window in the recovery room. Turning the old smoking room into a gym is still on the list of planned jobs but with COVID this has been put on hold. We will pick this up again soon as things start to settle down.
Having a permanent OT on the ward is a relatively new development and has so far been very positive, although again COVID has stopped us interacting with her as much as we could have.
There is also good news in that the ward will be joining the Star Wards programme. We suggested this over 2 years ago so it’s progress although a little slow.
Due to lockdown rules we have been unable to hold Patients' Council meetings in person on the ward so we are setting up an online service at the moment. This will take the form of Zoom/Skype sessions using a laptop in the recovery room on the ward which will allow us to have the volunteers taking part and keeping the confidential aspect of the meetings.
Once lockdown is over we will look at continuing some of the online provision so that we can have more regular meetings and be available if somebody wants to pass on an issue outside of normal meeting times. One of the advantages of this is that some people might only be on the ward for a few days. Previously they may have missed the monthly meetings, but with online meetings available we will be able to capture more opinions and experiences.
Powys Patients' Council is not currently meeting due to the Covid-19 outbreak.
The mental health ward is continuing to run a regular timetable of activities including using Just Dance on the Wii, using yoga and relaxation videos online and making sure they follow the 'Body Coach' online videos for physical exercise.
At the moment the outdoor area is having an outdoor smoking shelter built to comply with the forthcoming legislative changes around smoking in public places. They are planning some raised beds as well for the outdoor area and would love some advice from keen gardeners on how to do this. If you have any ideas please let me know by emailing owen.griffkin(at)pavo.org.uk
There's a big change this month as we are changing the day of the Patients' Council to Thursday starting this week. This is to make sure we are on the ward at the same time as the ward manager who has training on Wednesdays now.
The last meeting at the end of October saw some issues raised about the Recovery Room being out of use due to a broken window. We passed on our concerns to the Estates department as this is a vital resource for people on the ward. We also had feedback about the quality of the bed linen which has also been forwarded to the relevant department.
It was also noted that people there felt they were treated with care and comfort by the staff and access to an advocate was available and easy. It was brought to our attention that certain information sheets were mentioned in the 'Welcome Pack' that aren't available any more so we will look at getting this updated, and we are working with the ward and the Particpation Officer for the Mental Health Partnership Board on this.
We experimented with a new format for the meeting this month, and also a new venue, as the recovery room was temporarily out of action. This meant we sat in the main common space which led to more group discussions. The tray of cupcakes helped as well!
The recovery room being out of action was one issue raised, and this is hopefully in hand and back in use by now. We had requests around WiFi connection and access to devices so we will be looking at how this develops.The health board has a strong firewall, as you would expect from a large organisation that is reliant on IT, and this can cause restrictions to content that people on the ward can access. Maybe as mobile WiFi becomes more advanced we can look at an independent network.
Another issue was a request for bird feeders out in the front. We had added some with the help of the League of Friends committee at Bronllys so we were surprised to hear they had gone. We were told this was due to concerns from previous patients about vermin, so we are researching a solution to this age-old problem.The was also concerns about the set times for smoking ( currently 15 minutes every hour) and the response was that this is due to health and safety and staffing issues. We will have to monitor if this will change once the new indoor smoking ban comes into being and how smoking breaks will work then.
There were two other maintenance issues raised, one of which was being fixed as we left, which is a quick turnaround. The Occupational Therapy kitchen issues, which had led to it being out of use for a few months have been fixed.
We will be back for the next Patients’ COuncil at the end of October, when there is likely to be a new Occupation Therapist in position on a permanent basis. We hope this role will mean that there is a quality programme of activities on the ward and will help to support this in any way that we can.
The main issues at the latest Patients’ Council were mostly around noise from doors, and the kitchen currently being out of use to patients due to a leak. This is a problem as the kitchen is a source of many of the activities for patients, and is vital in assessing people’s independence throughout their recovery. We will be sending these points to the relevant departments and will post any actions here.
The next Patients’ Council meeting will be on the 21st August and we are going to change the way we run the meetings. At the moment myself and the two volunteers, Rhyd and John, will sit in the recovery room and wait for people to come in and discuss their issues on an individual basis. In the future, we feel that it might be conducive to make meetings more like a group forum so that we can actively discuss people’s experience on the ward and get a consensus. At the end of the group session we will stay around if anyone has private topics they want to discuss. We will also be bringing lots of cake!
I also had a meeting with Kirsten Davidson (Professional Lead for Occupation Therapy Mental Health) and Bethan Stallard (Occupational Therapy Support Worker) to discuss what we want to focus on in regards to activities on the ward. The priorities will be gym equipment, arts and crafts, music classes and yoga and wellbeing exercises, and we will be making sure we ask people on the ward for their ideas as we plan this.
We were also discussing how people with lived experience, especially experience of staying on the Felindre Ward, can be really useful for people who might be there now, or in the future. If you would like to get involved in this, please get in touch with us by emailing owen.griffkin(at)pavo.org.uk or ringing 01597 822191.
Patients' Council has continued to provide a monthly listening/feedback service for people currently staying on the Felindre Ward at Bronllys Hospital. We recently said goodbye to the Ward Manager, Lisa Hale, and we wish her all the best in her new role and thank her for her help in ensuring patient voice is listened to. The new Ward Manager is Carol Woodhouse, who has previously worked on the ward, which has made the transition easier.
We had some really good ideas for activities on the ward, including graded walking activities, knitting, cycling and even visits from animals. We have discussed the issue of vaping or eCigarettes with people on the ward and staff and will continue to look at this issue, especially with a potential ban on smoking on the ward.
We also had concerns raised about a disparity between staff members when it came to stipulated return times given to people, and this will be looked at in a staff meeting.
The next patients' council will be on June 26th.
Yoga classes have begun regularly on the Felindre Ward at Bronllys Hospital thanks to the Patients’ Council. Monday 1 April saw the first session led by Pete and Cori from Wye Valley Iyengar Yoga which was attended by staff members and people staying on the ward. The feedback was great, and the sessions will be continuing weekly.
The sessions came about after suggestions at a few Patients’ Council meetings to have a yoga session to help with mindfulness, wellbeing and physical health, and we found out about the Iyengar Yoga Development Fund. This fund was set up to fund teachers to work with people who would not normally be able to afford or access yoga classes and would benefit a great deal from the positive outcomes of regular yoga practice. The bid was successful and there will now be a yoga workshop every Monday, to hopefully get people’s weeks off to a good start.
We will be visiting one of the sessions soon to chat to Pete from Wye Valley Iyengar Yoga and Millie, who is the Occupational Therapist on the ward, to find out how it is benefitting people on the ward.
Unfortunately January's Patients' Council meeting was a victim of the weather so we had to postpone but we continue to work with the staff at Felindre Ward to explore new possibilities for activities for people staying on the ward including looking into weekly yoga sessions with a local practitioner. We have submitted a bid for 100% funding of this. We have also set up a working group to research the practicalities of installing some gym equipment within the building exclusively for patient use. We will be back on the ward again this month with the next session scheduled for 20th February.
The Mental Health Regional Planning and Development Partnership is about to submit its annual report, and the Felindre Ward Patients' Council was asked to summarise their activity for the year. It's a good opportunity for us to take stock of what has been achieved and share this publicly.
The Patients' Council has continued on Felindre Ward at Bronllys with monthly meetings attended by two volunteers, John and Rhydian. Activities have been the main issue of concern brought up by patients on the ward, and as a result we are currently exploring the possibility of regular yoga sessions, an on-site gym and working with the new Occupational Therapist on creative opportunities involving external practitioners. The council were involved in a ‘tidy-up’ of the veterans' garden next to the ward before a Remembrance Service and hopefully there will be opportunities for patients to continue to assist with the upkeep of this area. There was a meeting with the Citizens Advice Bureau to look at establishing regular surgeries on the ward to assist with patients' benefit and financial concerns and the council consulted on the Welsh Government's Smoke-free premises and Vehicles (Wales) Regulations 2018. Finally the council suggested having bird feeders installed outside the windows, and the Bronllys League of Friends has agreed to fund this.
There is a Christmas party on December 12th on the ward which we are looking forward to attending, with lots of nice party food prepared by patients.
What an interesting summer that was in Powys as we veered from a heatwave, straight into the wet August that seems to be the norm here nowadays. We held two meetings since the last update, in July and August and maybe the weather had something to do with the issues raised at the Patients' Council meetings as activities were high on the list again. Patients would like to see more outdoor activities, with gardening mentioned as a possibility and hopefully this is something we can work on and put in place for next growing season. There are a number of gardens on the site at Bronllys and we have already looked at ways of involving patients in the upkeep of these in the future. Another good idea was a bird feeder in the vicinity of the ward, which I think would be great. Maybe patients could help make one as a project.
Somebody raised the viewpoint that it is sometimes hard to have integration between ages and sexes on the ward, as different attitudes and opinions can sometimes clash. Tolerance and empathy can be difficult enough when you are at your best, so when you are in crisis on a mental health ward it can amplify differences even more. I think the ‘quiet room’ on the ward helps as it gives patients a chance to spend time in a place that is away from others.
We always get positive comments about the staff and the food at Patients’ Council, which continued at these meetings.
Finally, at the July meeting, we met with Stuart Chadbourne, from Powys Citizens' Advice Bureau, to discuss ways of getting patients access to CAB services. This is vital to ensure we can allay any fears about finances and benefits whilst people are on the ward. Once this is up and running we will write a further blog detailing how this is working.
The next Patients' Council is on October 24th.
It was a sweltering day for June's Patients' Council meeting and the ward was close to capacity. This was the first Patients' Council session since we had left a suggestion box on the ward, so there were more issues than usual to deal with. Having the suggestion box means we can address issues or concerns that we might have previously missed from people who have had short stays on the ward. It can also follow that these might have been dealt with already, as was the case with a note about the heating being on in rooms at night.
Another note praised the caring environment and professional staff which the Patients' Council were pleased to pass on to the new permanent Ward Manager, Lisa Hale.... Read more here.
This was a very quiet meeting, as the ward wasn't very busy this week. We spoke about the anxiety felt by existing patients when a new patient comes in. This might be a good topic to look at in future meetings with more attendees as it can be unsettling. A new patient did arrive, and you could see the short-term effect it had on the ward.
Jane Cooke had a meeting with the ward manager before the Patients Council meeting and she mentioned that they had been looking into implementing Star Wards on the ward.
This is a programme run by the charity Bright which provides 75 ideas and examples for mental health staff to help patients make the best use of their time whilst on a ward. A lot of the examples have been brought up as issues in previous Patient's council meetings, e.g. access to computers, wifi, gym equipment, entertainment. This is really encouraging and hopefully the ward will be signing up soon.
A regular topic at our meetings is the level of activity on the ward, and whilst we heard from some people that time can pass slowly at Felindre Ward, in recent times the Occupational Therapists have introduced a system whereby the patients themselves can choose activities two afternoons each week.
We have also been asked to see what people think of the idea of having staff uniforms on the ward, so that they always stand out and are instantly recognisable. We're also investigating a proposal, now that wifi is fully up and running, for some ward owned tablets to be acquired. We think it would help patients without their own devices to stay connected.
Tra bod gwaith yn cael ei gwblhau ar y gofod awyr agored, ynghyd â'r uned adran 136 yn cael eu hychwanegu at y ward, mae rhai mân swyddi y gellir ei wneud. Yr wythnos hon bu ychydig o gleifion yn helpu i beintio mainc y tu allan, ac mae sôn am furlun i orchuddio'r ffens newydd enfawr. Bydd cleifion yn ymwneud â hyn.
Soniodd un o'r cleifion am gael chwaraewr CD sydd wedi torri, ond eu bod yn awyddus i glywed cerddoriaeth ar y ward. Rydym yn awgrymu bod rhyw fath o offer stereo yn cael ei gaffael. Datblygiad diweddar ar y ward yw bod ymwybyddiaeth ofalgar yn cael ei gynnig ar sail wythnosol, dan arweiniad aelod o staff.
Mae garddio wedi dechrau fel gweithgaredd ar gyfer cleifion, a'r mis hwn clywsom am daith i'r ganolfan arddio i ddewis planhigion ac offer. Mae hwn yn weithgaredd i'w groesawu yn yr haf, ac fel rydym wedi crybwyll o'r blaen, un o'r heriau i gleifion yw ceisio llenwi'r dydd mewn ffordd ystyrlon.
Mae nifer o bethau y gellir eu gwneud, ac roedd un claf y cyfarfuwyd ag ef â diddordeb mewn celf ac ysgrifennu. Y mis hwn rydym hefyd yn edrych ar wneud cysylltiadau ar gyfer cleifion sy'n gallu ymweld â grwpiau lleol i ddilyn eu hobïau.
Ers peth amser rydym wedi bod yn edrych ar ffyrdd i gefnogi'r cais am fwy o bethau i'w gwneud ar y ward. Mae'r dasg o ddarparu diwrnod ystyrlon ochr yn ochr â diogelwch yn un anodd, ac yn ystod sesiwn y mis hwn daethom i gysylltiad â rhai cleifion a oedd wedi dechrau dilyn dosbarthiadau ioga ar Youtube - ateb rydym yn hoffi.
Darn cadarnhaol arall o newyddion, er bod gennym fwy o geisiadau am therapi siarad priodol ar y ward, yw datblygiad diweddar iawn bod aelod o staff sydd wedi'i hyfforddi mewn Therapi Ymddygiad Dilechdidol yn awr yn rhedeg grŵp unwaith yr wythnos - yn arbennig ar gyfer cleifion mewnol.
Yn olaf, bydd y ward yn cael ei reoli gan Fwrdd Iechyd Addysgu Powys o 1 Mehefin ymlaen.
Cawsom gyfarfod cymharol dawel y mis hwn gyda dim ond cwpwl o gleifion - ac fel mae'n digwydd roedd lefel dda o gynnwys gyda bwyd y ward a manylion eraill o fywyd bob dydd ar y ward. I egluro'r sefyllfa yn fyr, roedd un o'r cleifion yn dioddef o seicosis ac wedi cael cyffuriau gwrthseicotig. Disgrifiwyd teimlad y cyffuriau hyn fel 'un marwol', ond roedd yn dal gyda lefel dda iawn o fywiogrwydd, ac wedi rhyngweithio gyda ni yn frwd.
Mae'r gwaith gwrth-glymu yn yr ardd wedi dechrau, ac mae hyn yn golygu nid yn unig gallu gosod man ysmygu y tu allan yn awr, ond y gall y gofod a ryddheir y tu mewn gael ei ddefnyddio ar gyfer offer campfa. Hefyd, ac yn bwysig, bydd cleifion yn medru cymryd rhan mewn gweithgareddau garddio cyn bo hir.
Roedd ein cyfarfod rheolaidd â chleifion yn Ward Felindre y mis hwn yn cynnwys cleifion oedd yn siarad am fater bach, ond a gododd y cwestiwn o pa reolau ar y ward sy'n cael eu gosod mewn carreg a pha rai sy'n ddibynol ar ddisgresiwn y staff. I esbonio, roeddem yn trafod cael caniatâd i ysmygu ar ôl cinio, a gall hyn fod yn amodol ar argaeledd staff ac os ydy pobl wedi gorffen bwyta.
Mater arall a oedd ar yr un thema oedd y mater o'r hyn y gall pobl sy'n cael trafferth i gysgu yn ei wneud yn ystod y nos. Yn eich cartref eich hun, mae gan berson yr opsiwn o godi o'r gwely - ond ar y ward nid yw hyn yn gyffredinol y peth i'w wneud. Fodd bynnag, fel a gynghorwyd gan gyn-gleifion, fel arfer dengys synnwyr cyffredin gan staff nos cyn belled nad oes neb arall yn cael eu haflonyddu.
Yn olaf, siaradodd ein cleifion y mis hwn am gael eu derbyn i'r ysbyty heb ddim arian nac eiddo, a gwnaed awgrym am fenthyciadau bach. Mae hyn yn cael ei drafod.
Mae rhai o'r materion siaradwyd amdanynt y mis hwn yn cynnwys yr awgrym y dylai stôr o ddillad sbâr gael eu cadw ar y ward i ymwelwyr sydd efallai yn dod i mewn ar fyr rybudd, neu sy'n aros am eu dillad eu hunain i gyrraedd. Soniwyd hefyd am y gofynion ar gyfer mynediad at feddyg 'normal' ar y ward, oherwydd weithiau mae pryderon ynghylch iechyd corfforol y cleifion.
Yn fuan bydd system newydd lle mae eiddo sy'n perthyn i gleifion yn cael eu cofnodi i osgoi unrhyw golled neu ddryswch. Mae dau o'n pryderon eraill ar hyn o bryd yn cynnwys lefel y gweithgarwch ar y ward a lefel o amser un i un gyda'r staff. Esboniodd rheolwr y ward ar hyn o bryd bod staff sifft yn cael eu dyrannu i gleifion penodol fel y gall pobl gael cysylltiad un i un.
The patients we met this month talked to us openly about their time in hospital and the challenges of being sufficiently stimulated whilst there. One person mentioned that smoking and sleeping were two important aspects for them, as despite the best efforts of the two Occupational Therapists there is still lots of down-time to fill. There is a Community Walk in Brecon which some patients attend, and this seems popular - as does the regular pottery workshop.
The on ward internet access is now good and reliable. This month also saw a visit to the ward from various health board officials accompanying Eluned Morgan AM, and we also had the chance to talk about our work with these guests.
In recent times the patients who we've met have been relatively vocal and positive about their time on the ward. We had a slightly different meeting this month, with some quieter patients who were curious as to what we had to offer. Trying to nurture a person's voice at a low point in their lives is no easy task.
We spoke to the ward manager about how quiet the patients had been - and how unusual this was. When we talked further, we were reminded of how the hope was that the ward will be quiet over Christmas - with people able to be treated at home whenever possible. No predictions are being made however, and the ward is preparing a party for in-patients next week which we are pleased to be going along to.
This month's feedback was almost entirely positive and we had a meeting during which we were completely blown away by the strength of character of the current in-patients. If lived experience was worth money, they'd all be billionaires. Some of the good things we heard about on the ward was a feeling of absolute safety and a good level of camaraderie amongst patients.
In terms of activity level on the ward we heard of encouraging efforts from staff to facilitate activities and a strong patient led drive to organise board games, art sessions or ping-pong tournaments. The fact that there's a talented pianist staying at present means that sing-a-longs have become a regular feature of the music room and anyone who doesn't participate is generally there to listen along.The break from normality and a place of suffering can inspire people to make new plans for the future. We were also able to take part in a good level of informal work and participation on the ward today, and we heard first hand of how even wealthy people with large houses and fancy cars can suffer extreme levels of distress.
It is worth noting that the ward no longer conducts ward rounds with large numbers of staff discussing one patient in front of them. This is now conducted on a one-to-one basis, although support in completing a pro-forma prior to this is still available. Finally, we were once more impressed with the attitude of the new ward manager Lisa Hale and are content that we can all work well together.
Talking through similar issues with new people at each of our meetings helps us provide some structure with which to guide patients towards expressing what's on their mind - to help them raise their voice.The trigger at this month's meeting for a patient to request an advocate, and after we had explained the service, was a joke made by another patient. It seemed to bring a realisation of something, some new direction or purpose.
Amongst our group this month were some visitors from a busy ward in Pontypool, who seemed to like Felindre. We heard some good comments and some praise for staff listening skills, with further good comments too about the kitchen activity with the new Occupational Therapist. There is a new acting Ward Manager, who we met with, and we were once more reassured by the energy and enthusiasm of the person in that role and we look forward to working together over the coming months.
This month's report is by Carla Rosenthal:
We had a lively Patient's Council meeting in September which prompted a patient to remark on the need for physical activities to be available on the ward. Although there is a list of equipment that can be used to organise outside games, some patients on observation cannot go out due to staff constraints. This highlighted the benefit of having a safe and secure outdoor area that enables patients to be able to move freely outside without the requirement of having a member of staff present.
Plans are afoot to convert the space behind the ward (currently underused) to a patients' garden which can be designed, maintained and enjoyed by anyone staying on Felindre Ward. The garden area will have a smoking hut thereby freeing up the internal smoking room which will then be converted into a gym for patient use. Patients' Council are pushing forward these plans and hope to be able to report positive news soon.
Television viewing is a common issue that arises and at this meeting the possibility of having a booking system for patients to choose a particular programme to watch, was brought up. The possibility of having Film Nights was also talked about. There is a need to make it clear that there are laptops available to borrow and DVDs can be watched in the privacy of a patient's room if requested. A sign will go up on the notice board alerting patients to all the resources available.
The new Occupational Therapist is doing a grand job organising activities throughout the day and also for the evening after he has left the hospital. His enthusiasm and positivity in encouraging everyone to have a meaningful and enjoyable stay whilst in Bronllys has been praised by staff and patients. Hopefully, in the near future, music therapy activities will also be available. Details will be released as soon as there is confirmation.
Not everyone is aware that they can request the support of an Independent Mental Health Advocate who can assist and advise in a range of issues. Again, this service will be advertised in greater detail on the ward notice board.
If any patient who has been released from hospital would like to have a say in how mental health services are run in Powys, please contact PAVO's Mental Health Team to find out what participation opportunities are available.
We had a very positive session this month, where the voice and ideas of patients was celebrated. We also heard some positive feedback about nurses and the occupational therapists - and in fact there's a new OT who is very receptive to planning more evening activities.
One of the patients asked if we could start a compost heap, and we hope that between us all this will happen soon. It would be great to be able to respond quickly to patients, as some changes on the ward take time to achieve - for example the new gym and the garden we hope to create together one day.
We had some more private issues raised, and we were reminded once more of the need to explain things as much as needed to new visitors on the ward. Our colleague Carla Rosenthal suggested we create a 'Did you know?' wall in the recovery room with useful tips.
The ward is currently fairly quiet, but we held our meeting and had a few discussions with some patients. One of these patients is a young person who we have seen several times, and they're now preparing for a new start in a new location and can be seen as full of happiness and positive expectations for life once more.
Another person who we met is struggling with being sectioned and with life on the ward. We tried to empathise, and the volunteers spoke about similar feelings that they'd had when they were on the ward. Needless to say the specifics of the situation are being dealt with by an advocate for that patient, and there will be a tribunal in this instance.
One issue which is very important that was raised today is what to do when a person wants to practice their religion on the ward. We heard that a religious community had made contact with a specific patient with firm beliefs and practices, and that there was some scope for continuing the fellowship that they had been used to.
Finally, we were blown away with the enthusiasm and positivity which came from the new ward manager Lauren Edwards, herself a qualified Dialectical Behaviour Therapist. We really look forward to working together following the good progress under her predecessors Penny Price and Richard Rudge.
As an extra task this month our lead volunteer Rhydian Parry has compiled a list of CDs, DVDs and games equipment held by the ward - useful as a guide for patients who are looking for entertainment. We are very grateful to people who donated DVDs and CDs to the ward and now there is a list of what's on offer.
Our regular meeting was a very positive one and contained a lot of praise for the environment at Felindre, which we passed on to ward management. We heard about nightly scrabble games and table tennis, and the joys of pottery each week. What has also been praised is the camaraderie amongst patients who look out for one another during their stay. Although there have been several discharges this week we also heard an interesting perspective from someone who was really glad of the peace and quiet of the ward and the chance for a rest from their family, whilst they connected with other patients on the ward.
After starting with a discussion of the possible benefits of e-cigarettes in an environment where many people smoke we had a thorough session this month which covered some old and new issues. There was excitement at the forthcoming kitchen activity which is new to the ward, and some praise for the atmosphere on the ward once more. It was mentioned that some of the patients had been playing a lot of card and board games, which is a good sign, and we heard about a game of boules outside when the weather was good.
There are one or two areas where it can be useful for patients to ask staff if they need something - for example going outside in the fresh air when the doors may be locked - or having an extra cup of tea in between tea-times. Talking through life on the ward helps us to clarify the good and less good aspects of life there, and in turn our experts by experience (who have spent time there themselves) can pass on some tips..
As our lead volunteer Rhydian Parry said on the way home "...today was a good day for Patients' Council." We met with some lovely patients who spoke cheerfully and honestly about their time on the ward, including both what they liked and what they didn't like so much. We heard about some key issues regarding access to Doctors on the ward and the availability of Community Psychiatric Nurses for ward rounds.
Our meeting with the Ward Manager was supported this month by Senior Nurse and former Ward Manager Penny Price, along with Carla Rosenthal (who is covering as PAVO's Participation Officer). There was a superb atmosphere in the room and we discussed the possibility of converting some outdoor space into a beautiful garden - perhaps with community involvement and certainly with patients involved. We're pleased that a new Occupational Therapist will soon commence on the ward and from our end we will also be working hard again before our next visit to refine two separate funding bids - watch this space for updates and hopefully some positive news later this year.
We met with some patients today and explored a few individual and a few general issues as best we could. Some of the stresses of being an in-patient were discussed again, and our sympathetic ears and open minds, together with the experience of being on the ward that our volunteers bring, seemed to be very helpful.
When ward rounds happen, there is a pro-forma - or a form on which patients can write things down regarding their wishes for treatment. We discussed how this works with people today, and had a further chat about a consultant who had that day offered only a very short appointment to a patient. We think, partly from our own experiences, that writing things down before seeing a doctor or psychiatrist is a useful tool to keep the things you know are important at the forefront of your mind and firmly on the agenda for discussion.
Some of what we talked about today was specific to one or two individuals so remains in confidence, but we were also glad that we were able to offer that supportive ear to people whilst gathering our usual few items of essential feedback for ward management. To give one example of feedback this month, we asked that staff continue to be encouraged to help patients in completing the ward round pro-forma.
There are quite a few patients on the ward at present, but we are happy to report that they are as content as can be expected. Our meeting this month was a fairly quiet one. We delivered the first installment of CDs and DVDs for the recovery room and after a brief meeting we had to also content ourselves that we had been available to other patients if they had also had something to say.
Admin time is useful, and we are looking ahead to a future meeting with almost the entire Psychology team from the health board next month to discuss our plan to bring more therapeutic work on to the ward. We can't say too much about that at present but we are optimistic that we will be permitted to seek charitable funding for work to commence on an extended trial period basis.
The other news we have for you is that we are looking to begin dialogues above ward management level to finally sort out the lack of internet issue on the ward. We know that this connection with the outside world is vital for some people to maintain contact with friends and loved ones, to educate themselves on their condition and the medications they are being given, to keep up to date with benefit, housing and employment information, to entertain themselves with music and video, and for many other reasons. We hope that a filtered wi-fi service can be brought to the ward without too much delay as the issue has been raised time and time again by our patients and we now have a duty to act purposefully on this.
At our New Year's meeting some of our patients talked about wanting to hear more music on the ward. Some of them had been present at the Christmas party last year where a small ensemble played beautifully for staff and patients. We also talked about what a difference internet access on the ward would make to in-patients, but this is sadly yet to be rolled out on the ward. Related to this, some patients reported that they would like more newspapers to be available for them to know what is going on around them as they contemplate the difficult process of recovery. With this in mind we phoned round all the businesses in Talgarth and thanks to the goodwill of Glanenig House Care Home their entire batch of Sunday papers will be donated to our ward each Monday.
We did hear about another very positive situation this month where staff had made a good work-around for the lack of specialist benefits advice on the ward and we would like to commend them for this.
Finally in our round up for January, we had a sensitive discussion with patients and the ward manager about the attitude of busy staff in their daily verbal interactions with patients. I am yet to meet a patient at Felindre Ward who I do not understand or who I have ever had to ask to repeat themselves, but the comment we fielded was that often staff ask people to repeat what they have said, and that this can seem demeaning. We have raised the issue and we have ensured that this indiscretion, although unintended, can act as a reminder to anyone who comes into contact with patients that they must interact with them as equal subjects.
Felindre Ward at present is very quiet, with only a handful of in-patients. Our usual session wasn't really required, but we did get to have another conversation with the new Ward Manager, Richard Rudge, who's been promoted from the Home Treatment team.
As much of our work is ongoing, we met with Jane Cooke (PAVO Mental Health Team Manager) to develop our plan to increase the level of activities offered on the ward. This has been a recurring theme in our meetings for some time now and we hear of the problem from other Patients Councils too. Our plan is to bring in activity leaders from the voluntary sector, possibly from beyond, and to achieve this we are reaching out to partner organisations to discuss our capacity to hopefully run several small projects that help bring increased meaning and enjoyment to the days of in-patients.
Our funding fate is uncertain but we believe that we can put together a very strong case to bring a large number of tangible benefits from a little bit of money. We look forward to speaking to some of you about this in the near future- and please, get in touch with the Mental Health Team at PAVO if you already think you'd have something to offer. If you're curious but aren't quite sure why you'd want to - then all I'd say to you is that if my role has highlighted one central thing to me so far it would be this: it's a huge privilege to spend time with people on that ward.
This month we had a good turnout for our meeting with patients. The mood in the room was overtly positive, which made for a pleasant discussion in general.
We talked about a number of on ward and more general issues - the on ward issues being to do with how to peacefully ensure people can all watch things they want on television and another one to do with use of the games room for meetings by staff.
We also had a really in depth chat about the attitude of some psychiatrists - and whether they realise that they can seem a bit high and mighty in relation to their patients. In any case we gathered feedback on many issues again this month and we're also pleased that we made sure that staff who are involved in sectioning people are reminded of what it's like to be on the other end of this process too.
To give you a taste of this month's meeting - it could be described as difficult and emotional but ultimately purposeful. Guided by our lead volunteer our listening skills were fully employed and in our capacity as representatives we empathised with a small selection of patients - chipping in with helpful comments wherever we felt we could.
At a practical level the issues varied slightly this month, talking about relationships with staff (including special or favourite nurses) and we also aired a topic which may not seem obviously important to everyone. It is to do with cleaners being aware that moving things in a person's own room - even just to clean the space underneath- can seem intrusive if you are currently feeling vulnerable. Of course, we also listened at length to the underlying feelings present there- of what it's like to be kept away from your home, your friends and loved ones, and the frustrations of just wanting to be allowed to leave.
In terms of our other achievements this month, we delivered two large boxes of used books to the Recovery Room which were generously donated by Builth Wells Community Support. We also brought in new posters advertising our regular presence for staff and patients. Finally, despite learning of a funding 'brick wall' with regards to getting benefits advice back onto the ward we have made provisions to raise awareness of the vital role Powys Citizens Advice can play in assisting with benefit claims for people from all walks of life.
At this month's Patients' Council we had some new perspectives on some familiar themes. It has to be said that one of the patients who joined us this month is one of the most eloquent and well spoken people I've ever met. Food and activity levels were the main topics of conversation, and although it was said that the food is better than on most other wards, people long for variety during their stay.
As far as activities go, Rhydian Parry, John Lilley and myself who host Patients' Council are keen to make progress on the difficulties faced by patients and staff with limited time in getting enough activity on the ward. We discussed having a second television set for peak hours, the possibilIty of more art and craft tutoring (so that people could spend their free time progressing with these skills) and also, from outside the ward, we're now actively pursuing a donation of used books to further fill the shelves of the Patients' Council Recovery Room.
We hope to have some good news for you next month, in the meantime I would like to take the chance to thank Rhydian and John for welcoming me to their team over these past few months and wish to commend them for their ongoing and tireless work as volunteers - as in truth it makes my role far easier...
Our last two Patients' Council meetings have involved a variety of themes and some very interesting discussions. One thing that has stood out is how positive in general the feedback on the experience at Felindre Ward has been in comparison to other wards in other areas. We again discussed issues such as food and activity levels and asked people what they thought of plans to install a gym in the current smoking area - which most people like the sound of. Some people have been more content in general than others, and we have liased with staff over the situation for those with specific dietary needs. As it turns out, the catering will be provided from elsewhere soon. We are also chasing up the availability of benefits advice for patients - particularly for those who stay longer term, and hope to make progress on this soon.
Some matters that were discussed in June included the procedure for patients to comment on ward meals. Also, there were some discussions around the proposal to turn the current smoking room into a gym therefore allowing the chance for more physical activity - which itself has increased with the work of occupational therapists. We were told that advocates are now on the ward less often, which is disappointing. Also, some of the practicalities of having full but filtered internet access on the ward were talked about.