Care packages for patients are being rolled out across SLaM Hospitals, with funding from the Maudsley Charity. W-RAP (Well-being, Recovery, Activity Parcels) is co-produced by service users at mental health charity Re-Instate, who themselves have experience of being treated in hospital for mental illness.
Simon Hart, the CEO of Re-Instate says “The packs came about because our clients had said what an unhappy process being in hospital had been, and that just a few creature comforts can make you feel better and put a smile on your face”.
Delivering 3,000 packages
A trial, also funded by the Maudsley Charity, saw 300 packages distributed at the Ladywell Unit in Lewisham, with very positive feedback. Now the project has been given additional funding to deliver 3,000 packages between now and Autumn 2020.
The packages are provided to patients at three stages: when first arriving to the hospital, during the recovery, and going home. The first pack includes practical items like toiletries, socks and sanitary products. During their stay, they are given therapeutic activities like colouring books, juggling balls and playing cards. When leaving the hospital, they receive toilet paper, ingredients to make a meal and hot drink, and information about local services.
“They help to build trust with other patients and staff”.
Colette Robinson is the W-RAP project coordinator, and joined the project in January 2019, after experiencing a nervous breakdown and period of ill health in hospital herself. “The impact on my mental health was massive, and because I’ve had that experience I know what a benefit the packs can have. When I was admitted into hospital, all I wanted to do was wash my hair. I was really unhappy and wasn’t open to working with the staff – if I’d had a pack it would’ve softened me a bit”.
Colette has been bringing together focus groups of former mental health patients to select the items, with advice from Occupational Therapists and Home Treatment teams at the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust. Each item corresponds to one of the New Economic Foundation’s ‘Five Ways to Wellbeing’.
The packs are so flexible they can be tailored to meet the needs depending on age, gender, and even by individual. The ambition with the next stage of the project is to cater for the needs of different wards, such as mother and baby, adolescent or acute male wards.
Empowering volunteers with lived experience of mental ill health
A group of volunteers at Re-Instate are responsible for the process of selecting, sourcing, buying, wrapping and delivering the items. By empowering them to use their knowledge of what a hospital stay feels like, they can directly benefit others, resulting in a sense of self-worth and achievement.
Simon gave an example of one individual who had particularly benefitted: “One client was only 19 years old when he came to Re-Instate. He got involved in the W-RAP project, sourcing products and finding deals to buy things cheaply. It built his confidence and what we noticed was how keen he was, that he would show up on time, every day, so we offered him a job with us, two days a week. It was his first job and made a huge difference to him.”
“The young people thought it was lovely - it was nice that people were thinking about them, as the focus is usually on children with physical illnesses rather than mental illness. Some young people said they have a hard time leaving hospital, especially if they’ve been there for a while, so it was nice to have a useful gift to take with them.”