A GROUND-BREAKING project to improve the wellbeing of patients with dementia at St Cross Hospital has been expanded thanks to a £1,100 grant.
The grant from the Friends of St Cross (FOSC) has paved the way for Rugby Art Gallery and Museum (RAGM) to increase the number of sessions delivered at the hospital as part of The Good Times project.
The Good Times offers free sessions tailored to tackle loneliness and increase social interaction, specifically designed for people with dementia.
In addition to monthly craft sessions at RAGM, the project also regularly visits Age UK’s Claremont Centre and the Hospital of St Cross.
The grant has allowed the number of monthly sessions at St Cross to increase from one to three.
At the sessions, The Good Times team take a ‘reminiscence box’ containing objects from the Museum’s social history collection to the hospital’s Hoskyn and Mulberry wards.
Each session has a different theme, such as music, clothes or toys, with the objects helping to stir memories and start conversations.
RAGM learning and outreach officer Jessica Hartshorn said: “The sessions often start on a one-to-one basis with the patient but staff, visitors and other patients frequently join the conversation and it can quickly become a lively discussion.
“The feedback from patients and hospital staff has been extremely positive, and we’re delighted to have been able to expand the project thanks to the support of the Friends.”
Chris Seddon, modern matron at St Cross, said: “The project is making such a difference to the health and wellbeing of our patients.
“The visits provide opportunities for our patients to reminisce and have more personal interaction which is tailored to their interests.
“We’re very grateful to The Good Times team for providing this service for our patients.”
Since launching in 1955, FOSC has raised more than £3million to buy equipment and support services at the hospital.
FOSC chairman Willy Goldschmidt said the charity had supported a number of projects for patients with dementia, including the creation of the Bluebell Lounge – a comforting space away from the hospital’s wards which has been designed to replicate a 1950s family sitting room.
The Friends have also backed the hospital’s Healing Arts programme, which promotes the positive role the arts can play in supporting health and wellbeing.
Willy added: “The Friends saw the project as a great opportunity to extend the support we have given to the Healing Arts programme at St Cross, in particular supporting people suffering from dementia or confusion.
“A number of our volunteers also offer befriending and patient feeding, which we know makes a real difference for patients and staff.”
The Good Times was launched in 2016 and was recommissioned earlier this year thanks to fresh funding from Public Health Warwickshire.
It relaunched in August with a lively 1950s Tea Party.
Rugby Borough Council growth and investment spokeswoman Coun Heather Timms said: “Health professionals now place great emphasis on the benefits the arts and culture can bring for patients with conditions such as dementia.
“I’m delighted the support of the Friends has allowed RAGM’s education and outreach team to expand its innovative project and deliver extra sessions for patients at St Cross.”
Visit www.ragm.co.uk/goodtimes for more information.