Bingo is being credited for helping patients to recover more quickly on Wiltshire wards
A new game-related scheme which uses playing cards, trialled at a Wiltshire hospital, could 'significantly help' patient recovery.
As part of the project, volunteers at Salisbury District Hospital will spend up to three hours a day playing card games and bingo with patients on the elderly care wards.
"Over the length of time the project has been running, the length of stay of patients on those particular wards has fallen dramatically," said Dr Kate Jenkins the clinical psychologist who runs the programme.
"In some cases it's been by around 25%."
'Lack of motivation'
The programme, launched in 2010, is being trialled on two of the hospital's wards.
"We were getting referrals particularly for elderly patients who'd been in hospital for some time and had become depressed," added Dr Jenkins.
Dr Kate Jenkins has been working on the project in Salisbury
"They were staring at a blank wall with not much stimulation going on and this depression was leading to a lack of motivation."
To tackle the problem, a team of 15 volunteer psychology graduates were recruited to spend time with patients doing activities.
"They've been working primarily with elderly people who've had strokes," Dr Jenkins continued.
"It's fun but at the same time people are stimulating their brains and getting themselves motivated and interested in something.
"Particularly with elderly patients. It's a bit of social interaction as well."
Keen to get out
One volunteer, working with a stroke patient who'd lost the ability to speak, managed to find "a way to communicate with him and got him interested in a game of snap."
"It had been about two weeks and the nursing staff hadn't been able to get anything out of him," Dr Jenkins explained.
"But when he got snap and beat her to it, he laughed and it was the first time he'd smiled in two weeks."
Since the scheme was established, depression amongst participants has fallen, patient satisfaction has risen and the length of stay on the two wards has dropped by as much as 25%.
"I think it's because they're getting better more quickly," added Dr Jenkins.
"I don't think the satisfaction would have gone up at the same time if they were just keen to get out."