Friends' funding supports The Good Times at St Cross

A GROUND-BREAKING project to improve the wellbeing of patients with dementia at Rugby's Hospital of St Cross has been expanded thanks to a £1,100 grant.

Good Times St CrossThe grant from the Friends of the Hospital of St Cross has paved the way for Rugby Art Gallery and Museum to increase the number of sessions delivered at the hospital as part of The Good Times project.

The Good Times offers free sessions tailored to tackle loneliness and increase social interaction, and specifically designed for people living with dementia.

In addition to monthly craft sessions at the Art Gallery and Museum, The Good Times also regularly visits Age UK's Claremont Centre and the Hospital of St Cross.

And now, thanks to the grant from the Friends, the number of sessions at St Cross has increased from one each month to three.

The sessions involve The Good Times team taking a 'reminiscence box' containing objects from the Museum's social history collection on to the hospital's Hoskyn and Mulberry wards.

Each session has a different theme, such as music, clothes or toys, with the objects helping to stir memories and start conversations.

Jessica Hartshorn, Rugby Art Gallery and Museum's learning and outreach officer, explained: "Due to the nature of the ward environment, the sessions often start on a one-to-one basis with the patient but staff, visitors and other patients frequently join the conversation and it can quickly become a lively discussion.

"The feedback from both patients and hospital staff has been extremely positive since we started the sessions, and we're delighted to have been able to expand the project thanks to the support of the Friends."

Chris Seddon, modern matron at the Hospital of St Cross, said: "The Good Times project is making such a difference to the health and wellbeing of our patients.

"The visits provide the opportunity for our patients to reminisce and have more one-to-one personal interaction which is tailored to their interests.

"We're very grateful to The Good Times team for providing this service for our patients."

Since launching in 1955, the Friends of the Hospital of St Cross has raised more than £3 million to buy equipment and support services at the hospital.

Willy Goldschmidt, chairman of the Friends, said the charity had supported a number of projects for patients with dementia, including the creation of the Bluebell Lounge - a comforting space away from the hospital's wards which has been designed to replicate a 1950s family sitting room.

The Friends have also backed the hospital's Healing Arts programme, which promotes the positive role the arts can play in supporting health and wellbeing.

"The Friends saw the Good Times project as a great opportunity to extend the support we have given to the Healing Arts programme at St Cross, in particular supporting people suffering from dementia or confusion," Willy added.

"A number of our volunteers also offer befriending and patient feeding, which we know makes a real difference for both patients and staff."

The Good Times was launched in 2016 and was recommissioned earlier this year thanks to fresh funding from Public Health Warwickshire.

Cllr Heather Timms, Rugby Borough Council portfolio holder for growth and investment, said: "Health professionals now place great emphasis on the benefits the arts and culture can bring for patients with conditions such as dementia.

"I'm delighted the support of the Friends has allowed Rugby Art Gallery and Museum's education and outreach team to expand its innovative project and deliver extra sessions for patients at St Cross."

For more information on The Good Times, visit www.ragm.co.uk/goodtimes

Photo caption: (back row, left to right) - Emma Barford, RAGM gallery assistant, Willy Goldschmidt, chairman of the Friends of the Hospital of St Cross, Maria Taylor, support worker at St Cross, Nurse Audrey Ndingane, RAGM volunteer Tony Mennell, (front row, left to right) RAGM volunteer Sue Maguire, Mulberry Ward patient Iris Peters, and St Cross support worker Katrina Smith.

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