While COVID-19 changed business as usual for us all, Princess Alexandra Hospital’s long stay patients in the Brain Injury Rehabilitation Unit (BIRU) were hit hard.
The normally bustling unit was subject to stringent restrictions to keep patients safe meaning less visits from family members and more time spent in their room.
BIRU Occupational Therapists Emily Pietrobon and Rachael Walton said patients were expressing frustration and boredom on the weekends - even after restrictions were lifted.
As a state-wide service, many BIRU patients are far from home so they do not always have family or friends in Brisbane. Emily said the issue of distance, no therapy on weekends, compounded by COVID-19 restrictions provided limited opportunities for visitors or for a weekend release pass to relieve the monotony of long-term rehabilitation which may last several months.
“The feedback our patients provided highlighted that this was impacting their mood, engagement and outlook on recovery,” said Emily.
“We wanted to improve the BIRU experience for these patients so we started by simply asking them the question; How can we make weekends better in here?”
Some of the responses that were gained from a survey from patients and family included someone to read the newspaper with me, more board games available, a Netflix subscription, and some key environmental changes.
“Some things, like access to more games, arts and crafts and fixing the remote for the tv, could be implemented quickly,” she said.
“Since we first asked the question in late 2020, we have been working with our community to make further changes and have started recruiting volunteers to provide support and activities on weekends and progressing with a mural in the courtyard,” said Emily.
“Keep your eyes peeled!’