Local actors put Trust in picture

A group of local actors have performed before health chiefs to highlight the difficulties people with special needs can face in hospital.

Lilliput have previously been commissioned by Altnagelvin Hospital to film the performance, which has since been released on DVD format as an educational resource.

It is now being rolled out as a training tool for nurses on the way people with learning disabilities should be treated treated when they come into hospital.

In conjunction with a professor from the University of Ulster, Lilliput director Gordon Smyth and assistant director Maureen Clarke devised the scenarios in the production, which include explaining the different meal options to a patient with learning disabilities, and correct protocols when explaining surgical procedures to someone.

During the Western Health and Social Care Trust’s monthly board meeting this week, six of the actors involved in the production re-enacted some of these scenarios.

Speaking after the production one of the actors, Mark Kelly, gave a short speech detailing how Lilliput had opened up opportunities for them and telling the board that the theatre group enjoyed trips out with Disability Action.

Congratulating the troupe of actors on their performance, Trust chief executive Elaine Way said:

“When I first came to Altnagelvin many years ago as chief executive one of the first complaints I got in 2005/6 was from the sister of a young man with a learning disability who came in for surgery.

“She felt his treatment was very poor, not in terms of clinical care but in how the staff had cared for him.”

Mrs Way detailed how a staff member had asked the young man if he needed pain relief, but had moved on with her medicine trolley before he could respond.

“I am immensely proud of all that you have shown us today,” she said. “For me it shows the progress that has been made. We are so committed to ensuring you receive the care you deserve just the way I receive it.”

She described the sketches as “very powerful” and “very, very moving”.

Trust chairman Gerard Guckian added that in terms of modern health services across the Trust there had been ‘a sea change compared to how care was done in the past’.

The other actors involved in the Trust presentation were George Harkin, Rachel McClay, Frankie Elliot, John Murphy and John Doherty.

Mr Smyth said Lilliput had been touring successfully for the past 18 months, while the company, which is based at the Playhouse in Derry city centre, have now been asked to make another DVD by the Trust.

This will be based on the administration process and will focus on Lakeview Hospital reception area and car park, dealing with interactions between a parent, a son and nurses.

“Hopefully that will be used then for family and carers going into respite,” Mr Smyth said.