Actor Ciaran Hinds visits Whiteabbey Hospital

Actor Ciaran Hinds visited Whiteabbey Hospital to help celebrate the success of its unique partnership with InterAct Stroke Support.
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The initiative is helping to aid patients’ recovery through the arts.

It is the only hospital in Northern Ireland to offer the innovative service, which brings professional actors in to read poetry and stories to stroke survivors.

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Well-known actor Ciaran Hinds recently paid a visit to Ward 3 to see the impact of the initiative for himself, in his role as the charity’s ambassador.

Ciaran Hinds with staff on Ward 3 at Whiteabbey Hospital.Ciaran Hinds with staff on Ward 3 at Whiteabbey Hospital.
Ciaran Hinds with staff on Ward 3 at Whiteabbey Hospital.

Explaining more about its positive impact, Lead Occupational Therapist, Patricia McIlwaine, said: “Interact Stroke Support has been providing a twice-weekly service in Whiteabbey Hospital since May 2022, and I am delighted that it is now an established part of rehabilitation for our patients.

“The service was set up with the support of the ward’s multidiscipline team. The professional actors spend time with our stroke and rehabilitation patients, reading and chatting to them about topics of interest.

“It is lovely to see how spending a short time sitting and engaging with patients can lift their mood and improve their social engagement, which, in turn, can play a big role in the overall rehabilitation process.”

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The one-to-one interaction has proven to improve mood and alleviate post-stroke depression, while stimulating the brain, boosting self-confidence and communication skills, while also providing entertainment.

Ciaran Hinds pictured with Whiteabbey Hospital staff.Ciaran Hinds pictured with Whiteabbey Hospital staff.
Ciaran Hinds pictured with Whiteabbey Hospital staff.

As patients are not being assessed or tested during the readings, they are able to relax, engage and enjoy themselves.

Patient feedback

After initial training sessions, those taking part were asked what they most enjoyed about the readings, with feedback speaking for itself:

“It removed me from the status of being a patient and made me feel more equal and human. Felt I was a person again and not a patient.”

Ciaran Hinds pictured with Whiteabbey Hospital staff.Ciaran Hinds pictured with Whiteabbey Hospital staff.
Ciaran Hinds pictured with Whiteabbey Hospital staff.
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“Nice to meet different people from different walks of life.”

“I really enjoyed how you acted the story out and how you became the characters and made them real.”

“You encouraged us to chat together, I loved you reading to us.”

“It enabled me to meet people on the ward that are not my carers and not in a uniform.”

A patient enjoys a reading as part of the partnership with InterAct Stroke Support.A patient enjoys a reading as part of the partnership with InterAct Stroke Support.
A patient enjoys a reading as part of the partnership with InterAct Stroke Support.
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“As a patient we can lose our identity. Interact helped me regain it.”

“It was very entertaining.”

“It’s nice to have someone to talk to and connect with.”

“Very good, I laughed so much.”

Alongside its hospital work, Interact Stroke Support offers an online service and has been steadily developing its innovative projects via creativity post-hospital discharge, encouraging stroke survivors to foster their own skills and develop confidence.

First set up on 2000, it now works with 20 hospitals and over 35 stroke clubs around the UK.

You can find out more by visiting www.interactstrokesupport.org

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