this month’s feature: reading friends

Over the last months we have been working in partnership with The Scottish Book Trust and The Reading Agency to bring Reading Friends to care for the elderly wards. Reading Friends is a UK wide scheme that uses books and reading as a way of fostering friendship and creating meaningful moments that have long term effects.

We are one of just two projects in Scotland and the first to be bring this project onto hospital wards. Fifteen new volunteers with varied and interesting backgrounds are ready to deliver this brilliant programme after some first class training from our partners at Volunteer Edinburgh. More training is to come as we continue to recruit but we already have a few of our wonderful volunteers visiting Prospect Bank and St. Johns Hospital. Simon Jay, Artlink’s volunteer coordinator for Reading Friends, has been bringing an exciting energy to the scheme:

“Since our first volunteer meeting mid-January, we’ve had new volunteers join us and we’ve begun to get out onto the wards. The volunteers themselves will be able to share their personal experience at one of our regular volunteer meet ups. Personally I have observed how the act of companionship, through sitting alongside someone and reading, can make a difference in unquantifiable ways. For instance, one patient a volunteer was reading to became much more engaged during an hour together looking at photo-books of Edinburgh. Relatives who visited after a Reading Friend had been to visit mentioned that everyone found it easier to talk and engage with each other. On another occasion, visiting a particularly distressed patient in their room calmed them down immediately and they found the companionship very soothing.” Simon Jay, Reading Friends Volunteer Coordinator

This Month’s Feature: Dance at Prospectbank

We’d like to welcome back Sarudzai Mutebuka, Senior Charge Nurse at Prospect Bank, you have only been back a short period but your amazing energy and enthusiasm is already showing results!

To expand what’s available in some of the specialist dementia units we work with, we asked Dance Base, who are currently running ‘Step in Time’ across 5 elderly residential homes in Edinburgh, to set up one of their projects at Prospect Bank. ‘Step in Time’ is a creative movement programme for older people. To make sure that the project would be well supported, Emma Stewart-Jones from Dance Base led a training session for care staff. A fun and energising morning explored how dance and creative movement can be used in care environments. To maximise impact of this opportunity Artlink invited activity coordinators from other hospitals to take part too.

Dance Base has now started a set of 8 weekly workshops for residents till the end of March.  Activity Coordinators have been invited to observe how the dance specialist leads these moment sessions. This way they can start to explore how they may incorporate similar ways of working into their own work. Artlink also organise a monthly coffee meet up for Activities Coordinators across hospitals to get us all talking to each other, sharing ways of working and feel more supported by each other.

Thank you to Miss Annabel Sings and Saro for setting up this training programme, it has been a delight to work with you all. Thanks to everyone who joined in the training programme, I really appreciate your energy and open minds’ Emma Stewart-Jones, Dance Base