Patients on the Trust’s older people’s Roseberry Ward at Lanchester Road Hospital, Durham have benefitted from an innovative scheme designed to reduce isolation and loneliness during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The ‘Keeping Connected’ scheme delivered by creative ageing charity Equal Arts, has kept patients entertained by delivering regular’ create at home packs’ filled with arts activities for patients to carry out and weekly Singing Hinnies ‘garden gigs’ visits by professional musicians.
Equal Arts’ Jos Forester-Melville regularly performs in the garden gigs. She said: “For us these sessions are all about connection. While the risks of the virus are major, we understand only too well the detrimental effect on older people who feel low and isolated, cut off from families and friends. Music, and the cheer and chat that accompany our sing-alongs have been a lifeline for many during the pandemic.”
Roseberry Ward staff Viv Cowell, occupational therapist and Jayne Fodden, activity coordinator, have been instrumental in bringing creativity to patients.
Jayne said: “The impact of the music from the Singing Hinnies always proves to be an uplifting and enjoyable session for both staff and patients. Usually the singing ends up with a bit of dancing and some tambourines to add to the overall atmosphere! Being in hospital and away from loved ones can be a difficult time for anyone, more so during the current pandemic.
“A break from all that using singing, is a positive and effective medium to bring a smile and some welcome respite.”
Among the patients on the ward is Jenny Wilkinson, who added: “We have a great time singing along and they play all our requests. It’s so kind of them to come and makes us all feel involved.”
Douglas Hunter, Equal Arts Chief Executive, said: “As measures ease for many, for those accessing our services little is changing. The issue and impact of isolation in our communities has been exacerbated by the onset of COVID-19.
“The fall out as measures ease is the impact to mental health and wellbeing. We’ve quickly adapted our services to continue supporting older people in creative ways that can support positive mental health.”
Maintaining regular contact, connecting with others, learning new skills and being mindful can all support wellbeing.
Councillor Kevin Nicholson, the council’s cabinet member for health and housing, said: “The lockdown posed many new challenges with regards to engaging with people and trying to reduce their feelings of anxiety and isolation, but we have tried to innovate and worked with various groups and charities to overcome these barriers which has hopefully maintained good mental health and helped people to safely come together and enjoy activities such as the Singing Hinnies.”
To find out more about Equal Arts, how to receive creative packs, remote workshops or a Singing Hinnies visit, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0191 261 1619.