Visits to the silver screen for patients
Patients at Guy’s and St Thomas’ can escape the wards for time at the movies, thanks to the MediCinema – an incredible service run by the national charity of the same name, which is supported by donations.
The cinemas screen the very latest releases for free and allow access to patients with wide-ranging needs, offering spaces for wheelchairs and beds as well as standard seats.
Some welcome socialising
Chris Gorringe developed a life-threatening infection in his blood and chest following a bad scratch to his arm. He had to have several operations and has been an inpatient at Guy’s Hospital twice in 2016, both times staying for several weeks.
He has used the ICAP MediCinema at Guy’s at least four times during his stays and says he enjoys the social aspect of the service.
‘It gives you something to look forward to and talk to other patients about,’ says Chris. ‘We come down together and have a little night out, and then there’s all the banter afterwards.
‘It makes you feel human again – that’s the best thing. You dress up and feel normal again.’
The cinema’s manager promotes the films around the hospital with the help of a team of volunteers, who bring patients from their wards and make sure they are comfortable. The volunteers are on hand throughout the film, as well as two nursing staff in case any medical help is needed.
‘I had to come down in a wheelchair originally and everyone is happy to help. It’s great that there are volunteers to bring you down, it's open to all’ says Chris.
Another long-stay patient to use the ICAP MediCinema is Abdul Akemel. He has spent over 12 weeks at Guy’s following a kidney transplant and he and his wife have used the service several times.
'I felt really happy thinking about it; it's been on my mind all week that I don't want to be discharged because I want to go to the cinema so much,’ says Abdul. ‘I forgot my pain and why I'm here – it felt like I'd been out for the night. I was smiling for the whole evening afterwards.’
A service for all patients
The MediCinema at St Thomas’ is for the young patients at Evelina London Children’s Hospital as well, showing kids’ movies regularly as well as films for adults.
Emily, aged 14, can take her blood-thinning machine into a screening with her, which she needs as part of her treatment for hypoplastic left heart syndrome. She has been a patient at Evelina London all her life, the most recent stay being for three weeks after she suffered a huge internal bleed when her pacemaker was replaced.
When Emily’s line on the blood-thinning machine was playing up, one of the nurses was able to help her.
‘Everyone at the MediCinema is very kind, especially when my line is being annoying,’ says Emily. ‘I like being able to come along because it’s a break from the wards.’
A big difference
Research carried out by MediCinema has shown that the service makes a real difference to patients’ experiences of being in hospital, helping to improve wellbeing and providing a valuable shared social experience.
The service is also invaluable for outpatients, with many people coming in regularly for test results, chemotherapy or dialysis. Having the chance to escape at the cinema for a couple of hours can make all the difference.
Vicky Sabarias works as a patient liaison officer at Evelina London and brings her nieces, nine-year-old Annabelle and seven-year-old Abigail, who are both outpatients.
‘We always look forward to our weekly visits,’ says Vicky. ‘What a fabulous way to improve a patient’s stay and lift their spirits. It makes a big difference.’
The MediCinema wouldn’t be able to run without donations from our wonderful supporters.