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Letters and drawings help patients battle loneliness

St Columcilles cards during COVID19

Drawings, paintings, cards and letters sent in from local primary and secondary school children helped reduce patient isolation and loneliness among patients at St Columcille’s Hospital in Loughlinstown during COVID-19.

The Speech and Language Therapy Department came up with the initiative with the hope that a thoughtful card or letter could lift spirits and offer a connection with children and students in the community. 

More than seventy cards arrived from Wesley College Dublin, Ranelagh Educate Together and St Pious’s School Terenure, offering support, hope and friendship to patients, during these isolating times.

“The idea being that each patient would receive a card providing an opportunity for positive engagement, to reduce isolation and increase wellbeing,” explained Suzanna Dooley, clinical specialist speech and language therapist at St Columcille’s Hospital.

“This is a lonely and stressful time for patients away from their families and friends.  Having a connection to the community may alleviate feelings of isolation. These Happy Thoughts Cards were reproduced and distributed to meet with infection control standards.  Ideally patients were offered a card that may interest them or be personally relevant.”

The cards and letters are available electronically for distribution.

“We have had feedback from other hospitals and residential homes including St Mary’s Hospital in the Phoenix Park, Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda and local care homes in Co Wicklow who enjoyed sharing the cards. The guest letters were welcomed by patients, with feedback including ‘a very lovely thought’, ‘fantastic idea’ and ‘very kind’,” said Suzanne.

“We plan to continue sharing the happy thoughts cards throughout the summer months as visiting restrictions remain in place. The original cards and letters are being taken into the National Library of Ireland collection for their archive.

“We would like to thank all the students who shared their talents and sent in good wishes, jokes, hope and hugs.”