ITV Loose Women learn more about how NHS Charities Together funding is transforming lives of NHS staff, patients and communities

On 8th July 2024
Categories: 2024

Loose Women regulars Brenda Edwards and Kaye Adams are lending their support to our summer marketing campaign, which will begin on 8 July, shortly after the NHS’s 76th birthday on 5 July, and continue throughout the month.

Click on the image above to watch a video about the path

Brenda visited The Robert Jones & Agnes Hunt (RJAH) Orthopaedic Hospital NHS Foundation Trust in Shropshire, where an outdoor, nature-based initiative – ‘Path of Positivity’ – is boosting wellbeing for NHS staff, visitors and patients, and supporting the recovery of people affected by life-changing injuries. Meanwhile, Kaye learned more about the initiative in the studio, interviewing Kate Betts, a Therapy Associate Practitioner on the Midland Centre for Spinal Injuries (MCSI) and Staff Governor. Kate first instigated the idea of Path of Positivity in 2019, with support from the hospital’s League of Friends and the NHS Trust’s Estates team.

The Path of Positivity is an open space, located behind Shropshire’s specialist orthopaedic hospital, which has been transformed into a tranquil wellbeing path, thanks to funding from NHS Charities Together. The path is accessible for anyone who uses a wheelchair, crutches or a walking frame, and provides an area of relaxation and reflection. The path is available to staff, patients and their loved ones, providing a calming place to take a break, enjoy their lunch can take a walk, observe wildlife and benefit from nature, outside of a clinical environment.

Ellie Orton OBE, Chief Executive at NHS Charities Together said:

“We’re thrilled to be partnering with ITV’s Loose Women to promote the vital work we do supporting NHS staff, patients and communities. We’re so thankful to patients like Paul and Eddie – who have been through so much but still want to share their inspirational stories; and staff like Kate, who help people recover and come to terms with life-changing injuries. The Path of Positivity initiative really goes to show the power of nature in boosting our health and wellbeing and is just one example of the thousands of projects we fund.

“We are so grateful to the staff and patients at The RJAH in Shropshire and all the Loose Women – especially Brenda and Kaye – for helping us shine a light on how the projects we fund transform lives. With the NHS under pressure like never before, the extra support we provide is more important than ever.” 

Paul with Brenda Edwards

Kate’s patient Paul Bunch bravely shares his story with Loose Women’s Brenda Edwards. He is 56 and lives in the West Midlands. He benefitted from the Path of Positivity project after a life-changing injury left him with paralysis of the legs (paraplegia) and incontinence issues.

Paul said:

“It was an ordinary day for me as a freelance photographer. As I leaned into my glove box, I felt an immense shooting pain. I collapsed and managed to get into my house. I stayed in bed, but after a few days I suddenly got much worse. I was blue lighted to hospital. An MRI scan confirmed I had a severe spinal injury and needed surgery.

“Following surgery, I was flat on my back for four weeks. I now have no bowel or bladder control, no feeling in the midrange area of my body or in the back of my legs. My legs still work but my feet don’t. I can’t balance, stand or walk and now use a wheelchair.

“The first time I went to the Path I watched a robin and temporarily forgot the reality I was facing. This wonderful open space allows me to process the injury and the enormity of it, with no noise. I have freedom and connection to the world, but if I have an accident here, help is close by. Over time, I’ve learnt to look at my injury in a different light. I still have dark days but a lot more good days.”

Kate Betts, Therapy Associate Practitioner at The RJAH Orthopaedic Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

Kate Betts is a Therapy Associate Practitioner and has worked at The RJAH Orthopaedic Hospital NHS Foundation Trust for almost 30 years. She first had the idea for the Path of Positivity in 2019.

Kate said:

“Before the Path of Positivity, patients and staff didn’t have access to our wonderful field and all of the nature within and around it. We had this huge space with so much potential that nobody could access. Patients outside around the hospital were faced with many obstacles such as kerbs and ramps. For patients who had been involved in accidents involving traffic, after a prolonged period inside a hospital, being around roads was quite challenging. Despite speed limits, traffic can appear very fast. 

“I’m thrilled that my idea has become a reality, thanks to funding from NHS Charities Together. Our Path of Positivity provides an environment where nature can be witnessed and enjoyed in a calm and tranquil setting. Patients can see the sky, watch the rabbits hopping and hear the birds chirping. It shows patients there is still a world out there, beyond the four walls of the hospital. It’s so important to be able to get some fresh air and feel the breeze on your face. I’ve seen first-hand how being in nature allows patients to be mindful, focus and take everything in, which are all important to recovery. We are so fortunate to have this revitalised space. It’s already been used by thousands of staff and patients, with many more to benefit in years to come.”

Eddie Williams is 50 and from Droitwich in Worcestershire. Last May he was in a motorbike accident which left him paralysed.

Eddie said:

“I was on my bike and collided with a tree. It was a road I was used to, but it was a courtesy bike I was riding as mine was being serviced. I lost control as I went around a bend, and I slid backwards into a tree. I knew it was a bad outcome.

“The Path of Positivity saved my life. The crash took everything from me and I honestly did not want to live. I lost everything – my job, my body and the ability to do anything. I could not see how I would live my life paralysed.

“The Path has helped me physically, but even more so mentally. I would do laps around it when I felt hopeless and angry with my situation. It became a bit of a joke with staff and patients asking me ‘What’s your lap time today?’. It has made me physically stronger and cleared my headspace. I need routine, so I would be out on the Path, rain or shine. It kept me going. Being outdoors, being with my family and laughing got me through the dark days. The patients on my ward also gave me the strength to carry on. If you’re at the start of this journey, don’t give up. You might feel like your life is over, but it’s not. You’ll get through it.”

The Path of Positivity is just one of hundreds of projects across the UK funded by NHS Charities Together which provide extra support and transform the care of NHS staff, patients and communities. Donate today to help fund more projects like this and help us to make healthcare better for everyone.

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