Background Social connectedness is a strong predictor of mental health (Saeri, Cruwys, Barlow, et al., 2018), yet the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing government-ordered lockdowns forced the UK population to limit their social contact. This presented a challenge to the provision of in-person psychological services to the clinically vulnerable patients of the Health and Wellbeing Centre at North London Hospice. Online social contact has been associated with positive psychological outcomes (Grieve, Indian, Witteveen, et al., 2013) and online mindfulness-based interventions have shown to reduce psychological distress (Ma, She, Siu, et al., 2018). After a number of patients reported a willingness to try an online group, we trialled a six-week online Mindfulness and Meditation group.
Aim(s) To discuss the principles of mindfulness and how it can benefit those living with life-limiting illnesses; deliver tangible experience of mindfulness practice; and provide social connectedness to patients with symptoms of anxiety shielding in their homes.
Methods November - December 2020: course scoping and planning; December 2020 - January 2021: patient recruitment; 27 January - 3 March 2021: course delivered via presentation slides on Zoom and weekly homework tasks; March - April 2021: evaluation and service user feedback. Outcome measures: number of attendees, service user feedback.
Results Attendee numbers: 11 patients signed up with between five and eight attending each session. Six patients provided feedback: 100% reported the course helped them a) feel less stressed and overwhelmed, b) change the way they view their thoughts, and c) change their behaviours. 83% were either ‘satisfied’ or ‘very satisfied’ with the course.
Conclusions The online Mindfulness and Meditation group had good and regular attendance, and service users indicated that it contributed to positive changes in their mental health. The course will run online again in July 2021, this time with pre- and post-questionnaires to assess the reduction in symptoms of anxiety more robustly.
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