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Innovative project to help service users get more active

Patients receiving care from Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) are being given the chance to get more active during their admission as part of a new pilot project designed to boost health and wellbeing.

Staff at the Woodlands Unit, which is on the Ipswich Hospital site, have teamed up with local charity ActivLives to offer inpatients on the Willow and Avocet Wards the chance to try their hands at fun, inclusive activities such as bowls, boccia and table tennis.

Called ‘Beyond Admission’, the initiative aims to motivate people to get more active while also helping them connect with others. During the weekly sessions, instructors also signpost service users to local community groups, which they can access after their admission to reduce social isolation and loneliness.

Feedback so far has been excellent, with service users saying: “It cheered me up. It was motivating and helped with concentration. It’s nice to be part of a team and the sessions brought everyone together. It’s a great way to spend an afternoon.”

Their views have been echoed by staff, who noticed that service users felt more engaged and settled following the sessions, while their mood also improved.

They added: “This is a brilliant activity to get service users and staff to communicate and work together. The sessions are thoroughly inclusive and safe and good for building staff and service user relations.”

Tara Brown, Matron at Woodlands, said: “We are delighted that we have been given the chance to work with ActivLives on this exciting initiative. The activities the instructors have brought onto the wards are fun, accessible and easy for people to learn, and can be played standing or seated so are truly inclusive for all of our service users.

“We hope that the project will help our service users to stay active and engaged during their admission. It also aims to make it easier for them to transition back into the community after their discharge by linking them with local groups so they can continue to take part in activities and build social networks.”

The sessions have been funded by a grant from NHS Ipswich and East Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG). They began in February and will run until November, with the programme taking a short break over the summer.

ActivLives and NSFT are now bidding for further funding to expand the project by offering a wider range of activities at Woodlands and adding gardening to the existing sports programme, while also developing stronger links with community services after discharge.

Julie Stokes, Chief Executive of ActivLives, said: “We are absolutely delighted that the Beyond Admission project seems to be having such a positive impact upon service users at Woodlands. The indications from the first 60 hours of delivery are that there is real potential for this form of in-reach, adapted activity to engage both service users and staff. This is a totally new approach for ActivLives to reach people who find it difficult to access community services and it’s an excellent way for health and a local charity to develop partnership working.”

Richard Watson, Deputy Chief Executive at NHS Ipswich and East Suffolk CCG, said: “This Beyond Admission project is an excellent example of how the NHS is working in partnership with local charities and voluntary groups to deliver real change and have a positive effective on people’s lives.

“It is well known that exercise and activity give our wellbeing a boost, and funding this initiative will further strengthen mental health provision and give people an even greater chance of making a good recovery.”

For more information about ActivLives, visit: activlives.org.uk/activlives/

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