The excitement with which the Occupational Therapy team talk about their new assessment kitchen, and the patient assessment items which the Friends have funded within it, is incredibly infectious. The Friends of Eastbourne Hospital, who donated £4,500 towards improvements and equipment in response to a bid from the OT Department, were invited to see what had been purchased and what a difference it had made.
Following repeated flooding, the Occupational Therapy assessment kitchen was obliged to undergo a full refurbishment, during which some OT treatment space was reconfigured into offices. This led to the decision to turn the remaining treatment area into a dual-purpose room suitable both for kitchen assessments and a range of OT assessments including cognitive assessments, upper and lower limb therapy, and a quiet space for supportive, emotional conversations.
However, the equipment available to the team had not been updated for over 20 years and the OT department felt they were at a point where they were unable to effectively assess their patients’ needs nor support their decision-making. They therefore submitted their bid to the Friends, with a shopping list of scores of specially-adapted, day-to-day items, which they felt would make a real different to patients’ independence, dignity and potentially even length of stay as they were encouraged to re-engage with the normal activities of daily living.
Rosy Shrubbs, Clinical Lead Occupational Therapist explained that, “Enabling patients to participate in normal activity can help motivate towards an earlier discharge, reduce carer burden and improve quality of life. For some individuals these devices can also significantly reduce risk and pain, with items adapted for visual impairment. The use of colour can enable individuals on their dementia journey, and adapted seating benefits the arthritic and fatigued.”
Named the ‘Friends Kitchen’, not only to reflect the support of the Friends of Eastbourne Hospital, but also to give the space a nice ring to it when bringing patients down, the new kitchen is indeed a very calming space.
Fraser Walsh-Beney, Specialist Occupational Therapist, told us he felt it was a place where patients could now really “decompress”. During one patient’s assessment, the decision was made to bake some scones, and with all the equipment now available to the team, this was done successfully. The patient proudly returned to the ward with his baking and has since been back to do more. Fraser explained that the kitchen is so versatile now that some patients don’t even really realise they are having a cognitive assessment. He said it is also a place which “just makes difficult conversations easier”.
Furthermore, Fraser believes the new facility is a real asset for the Trust itself, and should serve as a selling point for other therapists to come to the DGH. It demonstrates a commitment to reablement and hope for the future, which is at the heart of every Occupational Therapist’s role.
Stepping outside, representatives from the Friends were then shown the equally interesting Occupational Therapy Garden to which the Friends have contributed a camellia in memory of Queen Elizabeth II. We hope it brings pleasure to those who visit this beautiful space.