In late November and early December of this year, CHC members visited 48 wards in community hospitals across Wales. They spoke to older people and staff to find out what was provided to alleviate boredom, increase socialisation and reduce loneliness for people experiencing longer stays.
They heard from people who had a positive experience of wards that provided a wide range of activities to support interaction. On the other hand they heard from many people who had experienced wards that were crowded, provided few or no activities and were described to us as barren and depressing.
They found that books, newspapers, crafts and use of hand held devices such as phones and tablets were popular ways for people to spend their time. Whilst some areas invested time and resources to support such activities others were reluctant to do so, often due to concerns over cross infection.
Wards without space to share meals or activities contributed in some instances to people feeling bored and isolated. Missing, broken or inappropriate equipment meant that access to television or radio could also be limited and all too frequently those without visitors did not have access to their own choice of clothes or personal items.
Above all, we found that positive staff attitudes made a significant difference to the ward environment. We found some wards that encouraged collective activity including meals, watching films or craft. CHCs believe that NHS staff should challenge themselves and learn from each other to provide creative and innovative activities that meet individual need, support wellbeing and enable people to maintain their independence.