Letters of support and well-wishes

The chaplaincy team at RCHT is asking for laminated, hand-written ‘digital’ letters to deliver to patients at this time of need
Last week, hospitals across the country made the difficult decision to suspend patient visiting hours as a necessary precaution to keep patients, their families and staff as safe as possible during this difficult period.

Finding yourself alone and in hospital at such a difficult time, and with no visitors to look forward to, can be extremely distressing, but one member of staff has come up with a brilliant way to keep our patients connected to the wider community, and to ensure that they feel loved and supported at all times.

“With visiting at our hospitals currently on hold, I was concerned that patients, missing out on time spent with their loved ones, would be feeling lonely and sad”, explains Sarah Chaplin. “I thought it would be a really wonderful gesture if members of the public could produce handwritten letters that would then be delivered to patients on the wards.”

For Sarah, who is one of the Chaplains at the Royal Cornwall Hospital, the idea is one that has potential to make a tremendous difference to people at a time when they need it the most. “It’s such a small gesture”, continues Sarah, “but it’s the little things that make such a huge difference.”

For those thinking of submitting a letter to patients, Sarah’s advice is to keep it simple. “It’s really about spreading a bit of joy and happiness. Sending a smile or a hug, words of encouragement, a thought or prayer; just something to let the patient know that they’re supported; that there are people out here in the community thinking about them and offering well wishes.”

“It doesn’t necessarily have to be a letter”, continues Sarah. “It can be a sketch or drawing, which would go alongside some nice wording that we’ve chosen, and this will then be laminated by us in order to conform to current policies around infection, prevention and control.”

“We’ve already received over 25 letters so far”, explains Sarah. “The youngest was eight-year-old Elliot, who wrote a lovely letter and illustrated it with a picture of a rainbow; we’ve also had an artist who drew a lovely cartoon. It’s already proving to be really popular, and it’s such a nice way to brighten someone’s day.”

One patient who received a letter on Grenville Ward said: “It made me feel better and it cheered me up. The letter had a very good picture of a bee, which made me think of my niece”.

Kerry Eldridge, Executive Director of People and Organisational Development added: “We loved Sarah’s idea of supporting our patients in this way. The Chaplains are an integral part of our Hospital team, especially in our current crisis, and this idea is a creative way of reassuring our patients they are still being thought of when they are not getting visitors and we think it will make a big difference.”

To submit a letter, either scan a copy of it into your computer or take a picture of it, then send the file as a JPEG attachment to rcht.chaplains@nhs.net. From here the team will print and laminate all digital letters before distributing to the wards.

Talking about this initiative, Sarah has recently been interviewed by BBC Radio Cornwall. You can listen to her interview here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/p087hmsx (interview begins: 1.47.50)

Added on April 3, 2020, in News - Patient Experience