Reflective staff gardens with a ‘memory tree’ containing the names of colleagues and loved ones who have died over the past year have been created by the University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust (UHNM).
Both the Royal Stoke University Hospital in Stoke-on-Trent, and County Hospital in Stafford, now have gardens where staff can spend their breaks in quiet contemplation.
The opening comes after it was revealed that five of the trust’s staff members have died in past 12 months – four due to COVID-19.
And their names, and those of relatives who have also died, have been engraved on the metal trees within the gardens.
Lisa Thomson, director of communications and charity at UHNM, said: “The Coronavirus pandemic has been continually stressful every day for more than a year, for patients, their families, and our staff.
The past year has been incredibly difficult for many people, so any services that aid patient recovery, or make staff working conditions a bit easier, have to be welcomed
“UHNM’s charity has been well supported through the goodwill of the public, so we wanted to use some funds to help make things a little easier for everyone who stays, visits, or works here.
“The memory trees in the reflective gardens will hopefully bring some comfort to staff as they remember colleagues and loved ones.”
The charity is also funding free online entertainment and media services for patients via the SPARK Media platform provided by WiFi SPARK.
Services such as TV, radio, films, games, newspapers, magazines, and access to NHS videos. and therapy apps will also be available on phones and tablets when the platform goes live in the coming weeks.
The installation follows the successful rollout of WiFi in the trust by WiFi SPARK last year.
“We know that during the pandemic, patients have suffered greatly from having little, or no, contact with their families and friends, so being able to speak to them via video calls is a boost to morale,” said Thomson.
“By providing free WiFi, and now with new media services being made available, these entertainment options can help pass the time in hospital and aid patient recovery.”
The SPARK Media platform can be customised to a trust’s requirements, and for UHNM a link to its charity is found on the homepage.
The charity has other initiatives it provides for patients and staff, including screens on the ceilings of its critical care and radiology units, which play sky scenes.
“There are no windows in these wards, and so there is no natural light,” said Thomson.
“Having sky scenes playing with sunshine and rolling clouds emulates daylight and can help prevent delirium in patients, and it provides a nicer working environment for staff as well.”
Dean Moody, chief commercial officer at WiFi SPARK, adds: “Charities are an invaluable part of NHS trusts, and UHNM’s is providing some great ideas for patients and staff.
“The past year has been incredibly difficult for many people, so any services that aid patient recovery, or make staff working conditions a bit easier, have to be welcomed.”