BEIRUT: Feet begin to tap and heads nod to the beat. Smiles form on patients’ faces and some close their eyes in revelry; this is the classic hospital room scene when TIES’ volunteers enter it.
Hospital stays can be very daunting and lonely for patients of all ages. In an attempt to both distract and cheer up hospitalized patients, Trust-Inspiration-Encouragement-Strength (TIES) organization came to life in 2017 at the patient affairs department at AUBMC.
With a core group of trained volunteers, TIES provides patients and families with several types of entertainment resources ranging from coloring books for adults to magazines, novels, Sudoku, stress balls, playing cards, and musical performances.
Ghida Fadlallah, artist, and Yara Abou Harb, Deputy director for patient affairs, co-founders of TIES shared their journey with Annahar explaining the ways the initiative implements its commitment to brightening the days of adult hospitalized patients and how it affects the patients along with their families.
The initiative is built to go in parallel with AUBMC’s mission to restore, sustain, and enhance the health of patients. “The entertainment resources we offer to adults who vary in stages of sickness or recuperation is a unique tool to be used alongside the medicines and treatments that accompany illness,” Abou Harb told Annahar.”
The talented musicians among volunteers play various instruments while patients and families gather in the waiting areas, they also pass by the patients’ bedsides in case they are not able to leave their rooms.
“When volunteers give bedside performances to patients undergoing treatment, you can sense the healing power of music and joy being delivered,” Fadlallah told Annahar, “the response patients and families give the volunteers has a soothing effect on the performers leaving them ensured that they have made a difference in the patients’ hospital stay.” Abou Harb added that family members benefit a lot from seeing their loved ones enjoy a “moment of normalcy.”
Aside from music workshops, artists among the volunteers introduce different types of art workshops such as hand-embroidery, coloring and Arabic calligraphy to help patients benefit from art therapy which is considered a positive distraction for patients and family members.
A yoga instructor is among the TIES team to teach patients several breathing techniques that can be used daily to promote relaxation.
Finally, a professional storyteller engages patients and families in the waiting area with interesting cultural stories.
Given the sensitive nature of hospitals, volunteers go through specific training in order to be able to perform in front of patients, “the process of selecting the right volunteers, and training them to cope with the sensitivity of the setting is very critical to us,” Fadldllalh told Annahar.
By providing emotional support services and opportunities through artistic, musical, recreational, and psychological activities, TIES stands as a public awareness that highlights the strength of entertainment which can play an important role in humanizing health care institutions and aiding in recovery.
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