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P-49  Poppies
  1. Nicci Williamson,
  2. Karen McPhail and
  3. Stuart Cartlidge
  1. Douglas Macmillan Hospice, Stoke-on-Trent, UK


Diversional therapy is a tool used to help patients express emotions in a different way. Activities are devised with a worthwhile outcome and all patients, of all abilities, can participate. It encourages communication, expression, comradeship and reminiscence thus giving purpose and meaning for patients in our care.

One such project was to create our own ‘Tower of London’ display of poppies, but on a smaller scale. Poppies were to be made out of plastic bottle bottoms, painted by hand in red and black.

As the idea took hold, so the project grew. Patients formed their own ‘industrial line’ with some cutting, others painting and the rest assembling. The goal was for 3500 poppies. The design was drawn by an ex-draughtsman patient using his professional skills. It involved an 8 foot cross covered in poppies with a cascade of flowers to two giant poppies on the ground. The whole display measured approximately 50 metres in length and five metres in width and ran from the Spiritual Space to the Day Therapy Unit.

Patients, carers, visitors, staff and local schools ‘worked’ to create poppies. A growth chart recorded the number of poppies made with the target being 3500.

Local radio and newspapers appealed for bottles and the project took on a life of its own. It culminated in a service of Remembrance on the 11 November 2015 at the hospice. The service was attended by patients, carers, visitors, staff, local schools, dignitaries from the local community and British Legion. An ex-serviceman patient read the ‘Ode of Remembrance’. A young schoolboy played the bugle ‘Last Post’ to finish.

Patients participated with enthusiasm and motivation, staff felt the strength of working as a team. Collaborative working took the hospice into the local community. The Hospice profile was raised in the media. Conversation and laughter flowed and continues to this day.

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