New gym facility area for Rotorua Hospital’s mental health inpatient unit
23/03/2017 1:39:36 p.m.

Thursday 23 March 2017

New gym facility area for Rotorua Hospital’s mental health inpatient unit

It’s an exciting time for patients in the mental health inpatient unit at Rotorua Hospital with the official opening this week of a gym activity area, thanks to the support of the Rotorua Energy Charitable Trust (RECT).

The Lakes DHB Patient Comfort Fund of $20,000 was donated by RECT to Lakes DHB and applications for the fund are approved by the Lakes DHB Executive committee.

Lakes DHB Diversional Therapist, Paul McCann had the idea for an onsite gym for patients in the mental health inpatient unit at Rotorua Hospital and set about making it happen.

Last year Paul was taking patients to a local gym to support them with their health and wellbeing aims. He says people really enjoyed the gym activity and it was very successful, but not everyone was able to leave the unit. He started to think about making it possible for more people to be able to access the gym equipment by providing an activity space in the inpatient unit at Rotorua Hospital.

Paul asked a local consumer advisory group called VIP (Very Important Perspectives) group what they thought would make them more comfortable if they were in hospital. The group said a quiet space to read a book or write a letter and an exercise space or gym.

“As health professionals I thought we could be supporting people more with their healthy eating and exercise and therefore supporting people to have a good quality of life. So let’s have a gym.”

Paul applied to the Patient Comfort Fund, got approval and went about buying a range of equipment including; a cycle machine, two elliptical trainers (like a cross country ski), chin pull up bar, dip station and a weight machine. There is also a television so people can do cardio spin classes with a DVD and a cassette player for music. 

“It’s been really popular. When I come to work in the morning, people are coming up to me and saying what time can we go to the gym. Patients are approaching me and asking me to take them to the gym.”

The patient comfort fund also helped set up a library space in the inpatient unit, refurbishing a room and buying some shelving and books.

“I’m very grateful to everyone that has helped especially to RECT for providing the funds for both the library and the gym,” Paul says.

Paul has written guidelines to ensure the safety of staff and patients which includes an orientation package for staff and a security checklist. Patients will be accompanied by a staff member when using the gym equipment and there is key access. Staff will facilitate the session rather than be personal trainers. Paul says he does a bit of training himself so can help people with a basic exercise programme that’s suitable.

Sessions will start off and end with stretching and warming up on mats with foam rollers, ab rollers, steps, skipping ropes and resistance bands. Resources are also provided in the gym area including; “ Affordable Eats” from the Heart Foundation and hand outs about Green Prescription and Active Families, a work book to chart progress and MOH healthy eating guides.