The Sandy Lane Charitable Trust has put $280,000 in facilities at the disposal of the Evalina Smith Children’s Ward at the St Philip District Hospital. It is intended to make life much more soothing for the patients there, and easier for their nurses.
This morning, officials of the trust handed over a soft play space that can be supervised and accessed from the current day room; an indoor-outdoor area equipped with stimulation and soothing equipment; an alternative relaxation zone out of bed in a different environment; and an enclosed safe space where the patients can just “be”.
For those children who cannot leave their beds, a portable stimulation unit which can be plugged in close to bedside is available.
The ward also received four new high-sided electrical beds, a shower chair and a hoist to carry the children to the play room straight from their beds. Twenty new reclining chairs for the day room and a new television set, DVD and fridge and an emergency medical cart, with necessary equipment for the nursing staff, were also donated.
Additionally, nine out of the 18 patients have also benefited from new wheelchairs – specifically designed, moulded and manufactured to meet the specific needs of their individual bodies.
Pippa Challis, a Sandy Lane trustee, told reporters the ward’s needs were brought to the trust’s attention by its greatest champion Glynis Howard, who volunteers at the ward.
Challis said that when researching the facility, it quickly became apparent that it did not fulfil usual criteria, as only two of the patients were in fact “children” by chronological age. But with so much enthusiasm and determination shown on Howard’s part, she felt compelled to at least visit the facility in March – with some trepidation – as she was not sure what sort of facility she would find, and also because she disliked saying no to a cause, no matter how worthwhile, owing to age restrictions.
“However, I was pleasantly surprised by the warmth of the reception and the cleanliness of all the patients. With limited resources, the wonderful team of nurses meets all the needs of these 18 residents.
“Unfortunately what was obviously lacking was the equipment and space to provide them with some much needed stimulation and an alternative to the excessive time spent in their beds. My first visit to the Evalina Smith Ward reminded me of something very important when discussing people with special needs – actual age has no meaning; a child’s mind can be trapped in an adult’s body,” she observed.
Challis said that while the trust tried very hard to provide the ward with a facility that did not require any additional staff to monitor and equipment to make life easier for everyone, all the trustees wanted in return was a little less time in bed for these patients.
Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health Cheryl Alleyne thanked the charity for the tangible donation and at the same time called on good-spirited Barbadians to donate their time to visiting the hospital to interact with the patients.
“It would really be appreciated if persons could just come . . . and give somebody five minutes of your time. Giving back is not just about money. Just indicate your interest to the Ministry of Health because we would really like to find out who is coming . . . ,” said Alleyne.