Wincanton Hospital patients get a ‘lift’ thanks to ‘Friends’ donation


Wincanton Hospital patients get a ‘lift’ thanks to ‘Friends’ donation

Patients at Wincanton Hospital are now able to spend more time in the wonderful garden and outdoor areas thanks to the fantastic handiwork of the Friends of Wincanton Community Hospital.

With the main Hadspen ward that cares for inpatients located well above ground level, it was a huge challenge to get lesser mobile patients into the garden, meaning many would go without the outside air for many months at a time.

Colleagues at the hospital got together with the 'Friends' to discuss ways to solve this problem, and they came up with the idea of a lift that could transport wheelchairs, or even beds, into the garden.

They approached our estates and facilities team who looked at the cost, but to their dismay it came out at quite a hefty price – and probably more than the 'Friends' could realistically afford.

But it didn’t deter Ian Piper, a trustee at the 'Friends', who came up with a plan! He explains: “This all started when we had that really hot summer in 2021, and with COVID-19 still very much an issue in healthcare back then, colleagues were looking for an alternative to traditional fans to keep patients cool.

“Many patients weren’t able to get out of bed, which meant they could miss out on spending time outside in the fresh air for weeks on end.

“The hospital team worked closely with the trust’s estates and facilities teams to look at whether it would be possible to install a ramp, but as the floor slopes away so much, it would never actually reach the ground!

“We then came up with a solution of an actual lift from the ward down to the hospital garden. I did some research to see how much a lift would cost, but although we originally thought we’d be able to fund it, the additional feasibility study costs were just a bit too much for us.”

With that, Ian came up with an alternative idea where he drew on his project management experience.

“As a former project manager supplying to the MoD, among other public sector clients, I offered to carry out the work myself as it’s very much my area of expertise,” Ian continues. “So, I took on the project and we first put in a lift, and then changed the doors so there was bed and wheelchair access, along with all the necessary safety measures too.

“With the help of Chuck Downton, another of the 'Friends' trustees, we also resurfaced the area below the lift and finished it off with a decent edge on the path with lots of lovely planters, which were kindly donated by our local Asda’s charitable foundation.”

Chenise Newham, ward sister on Hadspen ward, said everyone at the hospital is so grateful to Ian, the 'Friends' and Asda for their incredible generosity.

She says: “We have such a lovely outside garden at the back of the hospital, which was almost impossible for patients confined to their bed to get to, which was a real shame.

“Having this new lift will benefit our patients so much as it gives them easy access to the garden from the ward, so they can take part in group activities in the nice weather, and also spend time with their families outside, which lots of patients tell us they want.

“All colleagues at the hospital have been trained to operate the lift, so it can be used at any time and means we can encourage patients to get up and out of their beds more, which can only be a good thing for their recovery.

“And we’ve already had great feedback from our patients, who’ve said how wonderful it is that they’re able to enjoy this outside space.

“We’re hugely grateful to the 'Friends' for their support – they’ve been instrumental in organising and getting this project off the ground, it has been a phenomenal effort.”