A drab dining room has been transformed into a popular and well-used facility for stroke patients and their relatives, thanks to an initiative by Colchester hospital staff.
What was previously simply the “Dining Room” on the Stroke Unit at Colchester General Hospital has been redesigned and upgraded into a “Day and Dining Room” where patients can relax with their visitors and work on their rehabilitation, as well as enjoy meals.
The year-long project is the initiative of rehabilitation assistants Victoria Teager and Caroline Karnik and physiotherapist Lisa Marshall.
The room has been completely redecorated, provided with two televisions and new furniture, and given homely touches, such as being supplied for the first time with table cloths. Tea and coffee-making facilities have also been added. In addition, therapy equipment, including puzzles and games, has been bought so that relatives can help in the recovery of their loved ones post-stroke. The room, which has a supply of newspapers, magazines and books, is also used for meetings of the Stroke Unit’s Coffee Club, where patients meet to socialise, and for group tai chi sessions.
Mrs Teager said the room was now being used to its full potential and the initial feedback from patients and relatives had been very positive.
“Previously, it was very uninspiring – painted throughout in magnolia – and ended up being a place where we stored equipment, and was not used much by patients,” she said.
“I decided to do something about it after I was asked to write an essay for my foundation degree in health and social care about a new idea to change the place where I work or to improve something that was already there.
“And, as a result of being inspired on a visit to her father-in-law in hospital on the south coast, Caroline wanted us to create a relaxed and quiet place for patients and relatives to use together.”
The staff on the unit supported the project in many ways. For example, occupational therapy assistant Kim Walker donated a TV set and other staff have given DVDs for patients and their relatives to watch.
The Stroke Unit’s own charitable fund has also contributed towards the costs and a grateful ex-patient’s relative donated £1,000. A foldaway bed is also being bought for the room so that the family of seriously ill patients can spend the night on the unit.
Mrs Karnik said: “If you’re sharing a bay with other patients, it can be difficult to have a private conversation with a family member.
“The room gives patients an opportunity to get out of a clinical environment into a relaxing and cosy atmosphere, where it’s much easier to talk in private with loved ones.”
The Day and Dining Room on the Stroke Unit, which is located on the ground floor of the hospital’s Gainsborough Wing, opens onto a courtyard garden where, in warm weather, stroke patients are encouraged to go to help with their rehabilitation.
According to the most recent audit by the Royal College of Physicians, Colchester General Hospital is the ninth best-performing hospital for stroke care in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.