Background In March 2020, due to COVID-19 the Social and Therapeutic Horticulture (STH) group in day services had to close. The hospice occupational therapist (OT) wanted to support the group to stay connected to nature and each other, so decided to introduce an interactive monthly newsletter.
Aims To encourage and support patients and volunteers to connect with nature (and each other) to support their mental health and sense of wellbeing through a period of shielding and isolation.
April 2020 – monthly newsletters were posted to patients and volunteers.
June 2021 – reviewed and agreed plans to relaunch the STH face-to-face groups (following the social distancing and PPE requirements).
August 2021 – face-to-face ‘wellbeing through nature’ sessions to start and newsletters to continue.
Results 32 people have accessed the monthly newsletter, whereas the face-to-face session only had six per session (on average). It has reached patients who had been unable to attend sessions at the centre due to logistics and care needs. It has enabled new patients to connect and benefit. It has kept people connected as they shared their news and stories together in the ‘grapevine’ section of the newsletter. The OT has inspired good practice for other health professionals.
Conclusion The newsletter has proven to be a fantastic medium for patients and volunteers to stay connected to the hospice and their peers through the pandemic. It has gathered a great deal of positive feedback from patients and families/carers alike. It has enabled the service to demonstrate that even through the pandemic we have been able to keep to our hospice core values. The newsletter will continue post COVID-19. It has enabled our patients to connect in a virtual way. We now look forward to restarting our face-to-face STH sessions in our day service.
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