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‘Anti-boredom box’ helps combat hospital boredom

05/02/2020
Three uniformed nurses open a plastic crate full of board games and puzzle books

Boxes of goodies are helping Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust keep patients entertained and to reduce their chances of falling.

Aimee Petrie, Falls Prevention Practice Educator for the Trust, had the idea to introduce 'anti-boredom boxes' full of activities to stop people getting bored while they are spending time in hospital.

Play can be a great form of distraction, and it can help to treat anxiety. Having something physical to do helps reduce the number of patients who are unstable on their feet getting up unaided, which in turn reduces the risk of falls.

Included in the boxes are adult colouring books, word search books, board games, pens, pencils, and playing cards, designed to tackle patients' boredom and assist staff with interaction when enhanced supervision is required. The boxes and materials, which cost £3,000 in total, were generously funded by the League of Friends, a voluntary organisation which supports the work of the hospitals in the Trust.

Aimee said: "These anti-boredom boxes will help to improve the experiences that patients have of our hospitals, particularly for our longer-stay patients.

"By having a simple box of entertainment, patients can play on their own, together or with someone, providing a distraction and entertainment.

"This initiative will provide a more friendly and holistic approach to patients' physical and mental wellbeing, and will also enhance patients' safety."

Many adult patients show signs of boredom, frustrations, anxiety and depression while in hospital and, while paediatric patients are provided with a multitude of entertainment, this is not the case for our adult patients.

Since the start of January 2020, around 40 boxes have been distributed to adult inpatient units and discharge lounges at all four of our hospitals. Long-stay patients and those more at risk of falls received the first boxes.

Each box is tailored to each particular ward. For example, the box provided to the Stroke Unit at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford has games and activities such as Jenga and stacking rings sets to encourage hand movement and aid recovery. Items were recommended by patients and ward staff.

Lucy Parsons, Matron for Neurosciences and the John Radcliffe, described the initiative as 'fantastic' and believes it will make a real difference to the care of Neuroscience patients.

Carmen Barbato, a Neuroscience Nurse, said: "The boxes are proving a hit with patients on the Neurosurgery wards. One patient described being very happy with the anti-boredom box she used - she couldn't think of a single way to improve it.

"In particular, she was very happy that the Sudoku she chose was in big font. Likewise, staff are very pleased the activities inside the anti-boredom box uses big font and are therefore accessible for many Neurosurgical patients."

Mark Smith, Manager of the League of Friends at the John Radcliffe, said: "At the League of Friends we are always happy to support new projects. During the bid application, Aimee explained how the anti-boredom boxes would have a really positive impact regarding anxiety and play an important role to assist as a distraction for patients. We are very happy we could help."

Pictured: from left, Debbie Pond, Practice Development Nurse, Aimee Petrie, Falls Prevention Practice Educator and Neha Bharti, Falls Prevention Nurse.