League of Friends helps Spinal Patients be in Control

New entertainments system on Spinal Unit giving patients full control

In 2009 the Duke of Cornwall Spinal Cord Injury Centre celebrated its 25th anniversary. Ahead of a commemorative visit by HRH the Earl of Wessex, a refurbishment programme was carried out to upgrade the décor and improve some of the internal spaces. This included, for example, new shower facilities, a lighter reception area to the Unit, a much improved lounge with colourful, more comfortable furniture that spinal patients find easier to use, as well as repainting the entire unit. The ArtCare department installed impressive aerial photographs of Wiltshire landmarks such as Stonehenge, the Fovant badges and the Westbury White Horse throughout the corridors.

One of the most significant changes, however, made possible by a donation from the League of Friends, was the installation of a bedside control system for each bed. Whilst in the main hospital a bedside entertainment system had been installed some years ago, enabling patients to watch television, listen to radio and make phone calls from their hospital bed, that system did not meet the needs of patients paralysed by spinal cord injury. The new system now installed in the Spinal Unit includes a television screen on an extending arm, but also a control panel for patients to control the lighting in their area or use the call bell. The total system cost £95,000, of which £20,000 from the League was a significant contribution.

Lead Nurse Anne Seaman says, “The patients really love this system, because they now have control of it all. They watch TV using earphones, so the ward areas are now much more serene and quiet. If you are in a ward 24 hours a day this is really important. The nursing staff are helped too, because the patients who need to be ventilated have a call bell with a different tone, allowing the nurses to instantly recognise the urgency and quickly respond. When the League of Friends made their donation, they insisted they wanted to pay for the control box units, on the understanding that the other parts would also be installed. This condition has encouraged other donors to also provide funding for the system. We are very grateful that the League of Friends has helped us and our patients. It is making a big difference.”

As part of the 25th anniversary, a ‘timeline’ with photographs and stories of patients was put on display in the unit. Their stories are a wonderful and moving testament of how the treatment and care in the Spinal Centre have helped patients succeed after their injury. They demonstrate how patients have found the motivation and strength to pick up their lives again, and while living with their disability, are maximising the potential of what they can achieve. These stories from patients throughout the years are shared with new patients, providing a positive message and encouragement for the future.