Working with our wonderful community groups
Repeatedly, I have to explain that, although the wonderful community groups we work with have a massive range of talents , the best gift they can bring to patients it their time.
When someone is in hospital, they may only be a mile or so away from their home, friends and family. But institutions can have a strange effect on people and many feel that they might as well be in a hospital in the middle of the desert than on a ward that overlooks their town.
Patients are nearly always deeply touched when people from a local group take time out their busy lives to make a difference to theirs. It may be a choir, some schoolchildren, a drama group or some Pets as Therapy dogs. It doesn't matter. Those groups bring in a something of the outside world onto a ward whether its a sense of the cold weather through their red noses, warm clothes and cold hands. It could be a familiar school uniform that triggers the long term memory of someone with dementia or it could be hearing a familar accent or language in what is otherwise an unfamiliar world.
Many of the groups we work with are very young. Some are barely school age. They are all so touchingly enthusiastic when first approached. Nearly always, the participants want to come in to the hospital immediately but, inevitably, there is always a process that slows things down. No one minds that if the delay is only a matter of days. It is the weeks and months that it can take to get a group of people with impossible diaries to find an appointment.
It drives me mad.
Kissing it Better, as a charity, always makes it clear how it works wherever it goes. Our core senior team has phenomenal experience, partly as carers themselves but also, in many cases as trained nurses, occupational therapists or other related professions. Some of us have cared for very handicapped children. Others have looked after elderly relatives or else been seriously ill themselves. All of us had held positions of serious responsibility within a caring role.