Caring for mental and physical health needs

Sophia Awan, mind and body champion, blogs about her initiative that provides resources for patients with mental health needs.

Can you tell us a bit about role?

I am an occupational therapist working at the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust Ladywell Unit, which is an acute mental health unit.

How did you come up with the idea of activity packs for patients?

At the end of last year, a fellow occupational therapist Jo-Ann Gosine (who works in the Lewisham Psychiatric Liaison Team) contacted me to talk about what resources could be available to support our patients with mental health needs who were presenting at Lewisham Hospital, often with co-occurring physical health needs. We explored a few different ideas such as thinking about how we could join up our South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust volunteer service with theirs at Lewisham Hospital, as well as having some activity packs to keep patients occupied whilst they wait.  

How has your planning been affected by the pandemic?

Fast-forward a few months and COVID-19 happens, which speedily brought about circumstances that none of us had ever anticipated! In light of needing to maintain social distancing and care for some patients in isolation, I started creating some self-occupying activity packs for the patients on my ward which contained a variety of resources such as mindfulness colouring, wordsearches, maths exercises, creative writing, quizzes and origami.

Occupational therapists across our Trust have been fantastic in sharing resources that support patient engagement via our occupational therapist mailing list. As a result, we have been able to collate a variety of worksheets and activity ideas for patients to choose from. It has been a great way to share our knowledge and ideas across different sites, all with the one shared goal of supporting patients’ wellbeing and helping to improve the patient experience.

How have patients and staff been finding the new materials?

activity packs 2I received good feedback from patients and staff about these packs and so when our Head occupational therapist asked if I could provide some basic activity resources for the psychiatric liaison patients who were being admitted and having to wait in our building, I thought that these would be perfect for them. I considered the additional needs that they might have by not being within the therapeutic environment of an inpatient ward, as well as not being able to have a pack personalised to their individual needs, so I wanted to make sure that these activity packs were as broad and diverse as possible to ensure that there would be something for everyone, regardless of their level of ability.

I created packs which provided not only activity sheets but some information on coronavirus government health advice and wellbeing tips based on the Royal College of Occupational Therapists' guidance on how to stay well whilst social distancing, as well as calming techniques for managing anxiety and worksheets on the Wheel of Wellbeing. 

It is our hope that these packs will help to improve the patient experience and support our patients’ wellbeing through these challenging times.

King’s Health Partners Mind & Body is committed to joining up mental and physical healthcare, training and research to improve health outcomes for our patients and service users.