Hospice Patients’ Social Crafts Group is a ‘Real Lifeline’ 

A group of patients at St Elizabeth Hospice are calling on more people to join their weekly social group, Creative Health which they have described as a ‘real lifeline’ during the recent difficult years brought by Covid-19.

Held every Monday, between 10am-2pm at Westerfield Village Hall, Creative Health is a social and crafts group for people who have received or are receiving support from St Elizabeth Hospice. The group was created by John Rivett and his wife Carolyn in March 2020 after the pandemic and following social restrictions saw the hospice’s weekly Day Care Service (now known as the Community Care Unit) temporarily pause.

As a result John created a WhatsApp group for all who regularly attended the Day Care Service groups to join, so they could remain in contact during the isolating times brought by lockdown and social distancing. As well as providing an opportunity to talk with one another, the group also facilitated online virtual yoga sessions to help the members retain mobility during lockdown.

These provided an important social support to many in the group and as restrictions lifted, John sought to establish the group as a physical meet up once more, this time at Westerfield Village Hall due to ongoing restrictions at the hospice due to it being a healthcare setting.

John, who himself has received support from St Elizabeth Hospice for a number of years and who has also been a committed supporter of the charity, said: “It really has taken on a life of its own and we now have 20 people who regularly come to the hall, to spend time with others in their local community, while also being creative and supporting each other.

“We’ve made such great friends in the process and are really keen to encourage more people to join us on a Monday and in the long run we are looking at ways we can develop the group further with day trips and other activities, in order to support more people.”

From creating memory books and Christmas cards through to playing board games and having a chat over a tea or coffee, Creative Health has proved a big success with those who attend every week, including Jim Jelbert, from Ipswich.

“I really love the group and am so thankful to John and Carolyn for instigating the idea once Covid-19 broke out,” Jim said.

“It has been a real lifeline and something I look forward to every week. It gives me a sense of purpose and companionship, especially as I am able to meet other people living with life-limiting conditions, similar to myself.

“We can share and relate to one another’s experiences which is so helpful and the fact we have people attending the group from a diverse range of places, such as Felixstowe, Ipswich and Woodbridge, shows how highly it is valued.”

The creation of Creative Health links closely to the Compassionate Communities project being facilitated by St Elizabeth Hospice in the East Suffolk area, which is part of a national approach that supplements the support given by healthcare providers, by offering resources and guidance to enable the public to support one another in their community during difficult times in their lives.

Hannah Bloom, Director of Income Generation at St Elizabeth Hospice, said: “It has been great to see the innovative work by John and the group in establishing such a brilliant weekly activity, which brings people together each week to socialise, have fun and to support one another’s wellbeing.

“At the hospice, protecting patients on the Inpatient Unit from Covid-19 is a priority and this makes it difficult to bring back groups of people. However, the last two years have meant people have found other ways social support and this group has demonstrated the importance of friendship. We will continue to support the group as it evolves and encourage anyone who would like to attend or would like to donate funds to help with future group activities to get in touch.” 

For more details about joining Creative Health or how you could support the group please contact John Rivett on 07818 575 123 or email johnsrivett@hotmail.com.  

Find out more about Compassionate Communities at www.stelizabethhospice.org.uk/compassion/ or email compassionate.communities@stelizabethhospice.org.uk.

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