Beating bedbound boredom

Assistant practitioner Rebecca Greenacre is helping patients to support their own health and wellbeing while in hospital

When Rebecca first devised a booklet to promote patient wellbeing on her ward, she didn’t think it would become a published resource for services across her trust, never mind lead to her being shortlisted for an RCNi nursing award.

Rebecca, who’s worked on an older people’s medicine ward for eight years, says: “I wanted to reduce the boredom factor for patients. I noticed that sometimes they didn’t have much stimulation to keep them physically and mentally active.

“Often, physiotherapy colleagues can only visit patients once a day so the booklet explains physical exercises that patients can do on their own. The aim is to stop people becoming deconditioned, and the booklet also includes activities, such as quizzes, word searches and colouring, so people have something to stimulate themselves mentally.”

It helps to build more of a therapeutic relationship

Rebecca says her Beat Bedbound Boredom booklet is also a good tool to help nursing support workers engage with patients. “Staff and patients can do activities from the booklet together, helping staff build a rapport with patients,” says Rebecca. “It also helps to build more of a therapeutic relationship.”

The booklet has become an essential resource for patients and staff on Rebecca’s ward and even more so since the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

“It’s been really difficult for patients’ families because they haven’t been able to visit the ward as usual,” says Rebecca. “The booklet has helped to reassure them that we’re going the extra mile to give high quality care and that their relatives won’t just be left on their own without anything to do.

“At the start of the pandemic, relatives were worried that staff would be too busy and that patients wouldn’t be able to walk around the ward or have much interaction, but the booklet has helped to reassure them that we have things in place to keep their loved ones motivated.”

Rebecca Greenacre

Embedding a good idea

Rebecca (pictured above), who is now undertaking a nursing degree apprenticeship, initially created the booklet a few years ago as coursework while studying to become an assistant practitioner.

She says it wasn’t until she attended the interview for her apprenticeship course a year or so later that she realised how much potential the tool had. 

“I had to present something to the panel,” explains Rebecca. “I talked about the booklet and they were impressed. They encouraged me to speak to my chief nurse, who really champions quality improvement, to see if it could be used more widely.

“I arranged a meeting with her, and she loved the idea so we agreed to trial it on my ward, offering it to all patients and working with staff to embed the resource. With support from my trust’s quality improvement programme, I’m now in the process of adapting the booklet so it can be used in services across the trust, including the community.”

We agreed to trial it on my ward, offering it to all patients and working with staff to embed the resource

Rebecca says the time she’s spent on placements during her apprenticeship has helped her think about how to adapt the booklet for different patient groups.

“I’m on a cardiology placement at the moment which is generally a younger patient group,” says Rebecca. “It’s helped me think about how I need to adapt the wording, as well as the content, to make sure the booklet is as effective as possible for different services.”

Rebecca is keen to have a nominated member of staff in each service to help her roll out the booklet. “It’s a large hospital and we also have community services so it would be difficult for me to visit each area,” says Rebecca. “I’m hoping to identify staff champions so they can ensure the booklet is being utilised and explain to staff how and when to use it so patients can get the most out of it.”

I hope my project encourages others to put their own ideas into action. You don’t have to be a registered member of staff to make a difference

Recognising excellent care

Rebecca’s booklet has made such a difference to patient care on her ward that earlier this year she was shortlisted in the nursing support worker category of the RCNi Nurse Awards. 

“It was such an honour to be recognised in this way,” says Rebecca. “For me, the fact that it happened during International Year of the Nurse and Midwife makes it even more special. We need to celebrate our profession and all the amazing things that nursing staff do.

“I really hope my project encourages other nursing support workers to put their own ideas to improve services into action. You don’t have to be a registered member of staff to make a difference.”

We need to celebrate our profession and all the amazing things that nursing staff do.

So, what’s Rebecca’s advice? “If you have an idea, I’d recommend spending some time writing down what you’d like to do and why,” says Rebecca. “If it’s a tool or resource, then create a prototype.

“Most importantly, have the confidence in yourself to take it to your manager or chief nurse. It’s nerve-wracking but I’m so glad that I did it because it’s opened up so many doors and I can see that it’s made a difference to patients.”

RCN Professional Lead for Nursing Support Workers Ofrah Muflahi adds: “Quality improvement is everyone’s responsibility. The work that Rebecca has done demonstrates this and shows the benefits that nursing support workers bring to the workplace. Rebecca’s determination to share her vital work is transforming the lives of patients.”

Nursing Support Workers' Day

On 23 November, we’re celebrating the vital contribution nursing support workers like Rebecca make in caring for the health of our nation on our first Nursing Support Workers’ Day.

Find out more about Nursing Support Workers' Day.

Nursing Support Workers Day logo

Find out more about the RCNi Nurse Awards.

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