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A team of Occupational Therapists has been praised for introducing 'ward workshops' for patients amid therapy service restrictions during the pandemic. 

Once COVID-19 hit the UK, Craig Newman and Shane Linford were quick to realise that access to therapy services, such as Workbridge, the workshop and various other voluntary roles, were likely to be delayed or significantly restricted. 

Craig said: "COVID pandemic has had a devastating impact on people’s everyday life, particularly within healthcare and mental health services. Community access, resource availability and people’s daily routines were hugely disrupted.

"The sudden and quick changes within local and national policies resulted in patients not being able to engage in therapy which we've found are vital to their recovery as giving patients access to meaningful occupations makes them feel valued.  

"Realising that access was likely to become restricted we looked to adapt our approaches. We started to introduce new initiatives and innovative ideas where patients had opportunities to engage in meaningful therapy on the ward."

Focus groups, with the support from Simon Jackson, Andy Gill and the patients themselves, developed creative solutions to the problems they were encountering.

Craig said: "We adapted and modified the ward environment to introduce a ward workshop. Over the past year, there have been many projects where we have seen a significant increase in patient’s engagement and positive outcomes. One of which was an idea developed in collaboration with patients to create a COVID reflection memorial area in the WWH courtyard.

"With great support from Katie Fisher, Dave Harrison and the grounds team, at least 15 patients have dedicated a whole year to restoring old outdoor furniture for the reflection garden. The furniture had personalised messages burnt into the wood using pyrography."

Last week Katie, Alex Trigg and Martin Kersey met with patients who showed them all the work they had completed. 

Craig added: "I just wanted to say a big thanks to everyone who supported this project and the patients who demonstrated outstanding commitment throughout."