A King’s doctor and his wife set up a scheme that has now delivered hundreds of ‘wellness boxes’ to support NHS staff caring for COVID-19 patients.
Seven-hundred-and-fifty of the packages have now been given to staff at the end of long shifts in COVID-19 wards – including those caring for patients on ventilators in intensive care.
Volunteers have now set up a production line in a non-clinical area of the hospital to keep up with demand. In total, more than £6,000 has been raised with many items donated by generous supporters, too.
The idea came from Dr Vishal Patel, a consultant hepatologist at Denmark Hill who was redeployed to a COVID-19 ward In March, along with colleagues from units across the hospital. He is also working on clinical trials investigating potential new treatments for the disease.
While opening up his wife, Seena, about the mental toll the situation had on staff working long shifts wearing full PPE, the pair came up with the idea of making ‘wellness boxes’ for staff.
The parcels contain hand cream, lip balm, energy snacks, rehydration solutions, face wipes, wellbeing advice and hand-written messages of support from the local community. They are small enough to be handed out on wards to give immediate relief after a long shift.
Seena set up an open Facebook group (#nhswellnessbox) to raise awareness amongst friends, family and the local community, and a Just Giving page was also set up to raise money for key items to fill the boxes with, which could then be distributed to staff at King’s College Hospital, where Vishal works, and the Princess Royal University Hospital (PRUH), which is close to their home.
Vishal, who has worked at King’s for more than a decade said, “I have witnessed first-hand the Herculean effort of NHS staff at King’s over the last six weeks, and I could not be more proud of their dedication and selflessness.
“Staff are doing everything they can to care for and support patients with COVID-19, and this is being replicated up and down the UK.
“Many patients are making a recovery but, sadly, some do not and it is very difficult on an emotional as well as physical level for all concerned.
“Hopefully, the NHS Wellness Box demonstrates to colleagues that their communities wholeheartedly support and are hugely appreciative of their dedication and tireless commitment.
“Our goal is to make 2,500 boxes for the King’s College Hospital and the Princess Royal University Hospital and to share them with the unsung heroes such as radiographers and porters, as well as frontline nurses and doctors.”
The idea is now taking hold across the country, with more than 20 volunteers making and distributing boxes to eighteen NHS England hospitals.
Seena, a Reiki practitioner, said: “It is truly wonderful and extraordinary to see that this simple idea has grown organically from one home to countless others, serving staff in several local hospitals at a time of great need, and giving purpose to local communities to help in a practical and uplifting way. I hope that when all this is over, such hard-working staff continue to be looked after and valued given what they have put themselves through for the country as a whole.”
Visit the #nhswellnessbox group on Facebook or nhswellnessbox page on Instagram for more information or to volunteer.