When it became clear to Melanie Knapp six years ago that conditions on the Psychiatric Floor at Grey Bruce Regional Health Centre were stark for patients staying there, she decided to do something about it. Since then, Melanie has organized a long-term project to ensure that much needed toiletries and other items are regularly delivered there. There are also five pizza deliveries a year on holidays, and in the past couple of years she has organized music and poetry readings on the ward, as well as an annual coffee house in the hospital cafeteria in which patients and members of the public can perform songs or poetry to a packed house. Thanks to Melanie, there is now a Patient Advisory Committee to recommend and implement improvements to patient comfort and care on the ward.
Melanie has had some help along the way from HER Grey Bruce, a community group of which she is a core member, and from private donations as well as a grant from The Community Foundation Grey Bruce. This year with additional funding from Community Foundations Canada, Melanie organized a series of workshops, three that took place on the ward and one in the community.
“When asked, patients said that they wanted to take part in more exercise and art activities,” Melanie said. “We did a four-part workshop series with Nia dance, visualization and therapeutic art as key components. It was a wonderful success and drew many patients to it with the positive perspective on patient’s overall health.
“We ended the series with a concert in the community at a café. Piper Hayes and her partner, Carson, came and played for about fifty community members. They spoke and sang about enhancing mental health. It was a great celebration!
“It’s great to see people gather together and feel a sense of belonging. At all of our functions people seemed to leave feeling positive and uplifted.
“Thanks to the Community Foundations of Canada. We hope this paves the way for other progressive programs in mental health.”