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Pilot ward at North East hospital supports patients to keep moving and stay active

Tuesday, 24 May, 2022
Pilot ward at North East hospital supports patients to keep moving and stay active

Patients admitted to a special pilot ward at a North East hospital are moving more and feeling the benefits as part of a scheme to promote physical activity.

Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust is one of just four organisations in the country to be part of the Active Hospitals pilot, which seeks to improve healthcare professionals’ awareness of the importance of physical activity while boosting their confidence and skills to promote it to patients.

The trust has established a number of key pilot ‘pathways’, which all involve staff being trained to have more conversations with patients about being active to benefit physical, mental and social wellbeing.

One of these is the Active Ward, at North Tyneside General Hospital, with staff ensuring they talk to patients about the health benefits of being active alongside encouraging people to move more through a range of activities taking place, driven forward by the Active Ward champion, Amanda Slee, and fellow physiotherapist, Wayne Simpson.

Activities range from chair dancing and bowling, to balloon games, drawing, painting, bingo and quizzes. The early indications are that this has resulted in more patients being out of bed and dressed during their stay with some even being discharged earlier.

Ward manager, Gemma Williams, who has been heavily involved in introducing activity into patient care, said: “Encouraging our patients to move more has made a huge difference on our ward. We’ve found that patients have really engaged with the idea – it has reduced the number of people lying in bed all day and it has made their stay much more enjoyable and productive.

“The activities we’ve introduced have all been as a result of feedback from patients and staff and, since starting, we’ve seen a change in the culture of the ward. Not only are the patients happier, the staff feel happier too.

“We’ve educated and empowered them to introduce activity as part of patient care and you can see the joy it spreads throughout the ward.”

One patient who benefitted from being active during her stay was 85-year-old Anne Stalker from North Shields.

“The days can be very long when you’re in hospital and it can be a very sterile atmosphere, there’s only so much reading you can do and I’m hard of hearing so I can’t watch the TV,” she said.

“The activities really brightened my day. They gave me something to look forward to, gave me someone to talk to and made my stay much more enjoyable than previous stays in hospital.

“I’m a great believer that being happy and having a positive frame of mind helps you to get better, the activities really helped with that. I hope they’ll continue and help many others as much as they helped me.”

Other Active Hospitals pilot pathways at Northumbria Healthcare include maternity, oncology, diabetes, Parkinson’s and staff wellbeing.

Jill Harland, Northumbria Healthcare’s consultant in public health, added: “Evidence suggests that one in four people will increase their activity levels if advised to do so by a clinician, so it’s great to see that our staff are truly making every contact count and that our patients are enjoying getting up and moving more while they’re with us.

“We all know the benefits being a little bit more active can bring to our physical health, but this work shows the positive impact it can have on people’s social and mental wellbeing too.”

Active Hospitals is funded by Office for Health Improvement and Disparities, Sport England and the National Lottery, and led by the NHS Transformation Unit.

Media contact

Ben O’Connell, media and communications officer, Northumbria Healthcare

Benjamin.O’ or 07833 046680.