Boxes make going back home that bit easier for IRH patients

Inverclyde residents returning to an empty home now have a box of food essentials to take with them when leaving their local hospital.

The Back Home Boxes are the brainchild of Compassionate Inverclyde, a volunteering project running a number of services within the community.

Started last November by the charity, the boxes are provided to everyone being discharged from the Inverclyde Royal Hospital (IRH) and living alone.

In just a matter of months the scheme has attracted 41 volunteers who dish out around 30 boxes every week from a dedicated room in the hospital where they store and make up the boxes.

Each box contains a number of essentials donated by people and groups across Inverclyde meaning the discharged patients can enjoy a hot drink and a light snack when they get home.

Teabags, coffee, long life milk, packet soups, biscuits and tinned meats are all included in the box. Also included is a get well card from local school children and a blanket knitted by individuals and groups.

Feedback from grateful patients has been very positive with many saying the boxes make a huge difference upon discharge.

Alison Bunce, Compassionate Inverclyde programme lead, said: “We have had a number of discussions with people in the community and they told us loneliness is a big issue facing many people.

“The more we spoke to people we found that this was particularly an issue for people being discharged from hospital and returning home to an empty house without even the basics to make a sandwich or cup of tea.

“These boxes are a real community act of kindness. People told us what they think should be in the boxes and it is people and groups across the local community who aer providing every single item that goes in them.

“The cards are made by local school children and the blankets are made by local people. We find these items add a real personal touch with many recipients feeling that their inclusion shows that people are thinking about them.

“Every day we have volunteers going around wards and speaking to staff to ensure that there is a box ready for everyone going back to an empty home. Since November we have given out around 600 boxes – mainly to people in their 80s.

“The local community has been so kind and the Back Home boxes are going from strength to strength. We have local schools coming to the IRH to help pack boxes and it also gives them a wonderful opportunity to learn about the importance of kindness, compassion and being involved in their local communities.

“People can donate items at a number of venues across Inverclyde and the response has been great. It’s a perfect example of ordinary people helping ordinary people and I’d urge as many people to get involved in whatever way they can.”

Marie Farrell, Clyde director for NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, said: “We’re delighted that the Back Home boxes have been so successful and are being so well received by patients returning home alone.

“Our staff work with the volunteers from Compassionate Inverclyde to ensure that patients who do live alone receive one of the boxes so that they have basic provisions when they leave the IRH.

“We are happy to be able to provide a base for the boxes to be put together and for the relationship our staff have built up with the volunteers is a perfect example of the strong social spirit in the area.”