Small Acts of Friendship

Small Acts of Friendship is a programme designed by the Elderly Care Team at the Royal Sussex County Hospital, and funded by the Friends to help elderly patients retain their sense of dignity and well being, so they have a better experience in hospital and find it easier to rejoin the community when they leave. Small Acts of Friendship is having a very positive effect on the patients, as our film, right, shows. We are always looking for volunteers to help deliver this.

Since its launch in November 2017 Small Acts of Friendship has helped over 1100 patients, and we are now fundraising to support a second year of this programme, allowing us to build on what we have learned and to introduce improvements to the existing product. We also want to offer support for patients and their relatives at end of Life. In January 2019 Marianne Griffiths, Chief Executive of BSUH, paid tribute to Small Acts after a CQC report - video here.
In an article published in the July 2019 edition of OT News magazine, Paola O’Sullivan and Gemma Buckley explain how the introduction of activities on elderly acute wards has improved patients’ emotional and social wellbeing whilst in hospital. Full article here.

This article was first published by the Royal College of Occupational Therapists in Occupational Therapy News. 

Can you donate money to support Small Acts of Friendship?

Having already raised £45,000 through the kind generosity of local people who donated or left us a legacy, we are now looking to raise a further £20,000 to support this programme during 2018 and 2019. Please give generously through our JustGiving page.

Can you donate time to support Small Acts of Friendship?

Small Acts of Friendship works with Voluntary Services at the Royal Sussex County Hospital to provide befriending provision on the elderly care wards. This could include sitting with patients to provide company, reading to patients or listening with empathy as they share their experiences. There is no personal care involved in this role. We usually ask volunteers to commit to one morning or afternoon shift per week and our volunteers either run or support activities for patients, including hand massage, poetry reading, hairdressing, music or art. You will have good interpersonal skills, a calm, friendly, compassionate nature and an interest in helping and supporting people.

To start the process of becoming a volunteer, please register your interest  here to attend an Open Morning : click ‘No’ that you are not a student and then mention Small Acts of Friendship in your Reasons for Choosing BSUH. Volunteering in a hospital premises requires a DBS check and certain training to be done before you are able to start.

Elderly patients love to hear music, especially music that is familiar from their youth. If you are able to come and sing, either accompanied by an instrument or not, we would love to hear from you. If you don't feel able to lead a singing group, that's fine - we can find a role for you supporting a group leader.

Some patients love having poetry read to them. If you enjoy poetry, reading aloud and discussing poetry please consider giving your time to support this activity.

Small Acts of Friendship has trained hairdressers coming on to the ward regularly, but we would really appreciate a regular volunteer to support them, by talking to the patients, perhaps brushing their hair and talking to them.

For those of our elderly care patients who are well enough to sit up and engage, and perhaps even sit up at a table, we are asking for art volunteers. Some patients enjoy sitting and colouring in and having a quiet chat while they do this. You don't need to be a great artist to help with this.

Some of our patients are really just looking for a chat. It might be about their youth, or about their family, the latest events in the newspapers that Small Acts of Friendship provides, or about how they are feeling today. Days in hospital can be very long and even for those with local family visiting hours are only a small part of the day, so people to talk to are very much valued in engaging patients. 

Brighton and Sussex Medical School are involved in measuring the impact of Small Acts of Friendship so there will be credible research which can be shared with other Elderly Care teams.

Find out how you can get involved with Craft/DIY

This programme will make an enormous difference to the way in which we look after elderly people during their hospital stay.

BSUH Consultant Dr Muna Al-Jawad

I am delighted to support the Small Acts of Friendship project , and to see NHS Clinicians and the Friends of Brighton and Hove Hospitals bringing together so many parts of the community to create an improved quality of life to elderly people when they are in hospital.

Baroness Cumberlege

I am pleased to support this initiative. The elderly often find it particularly difficult when they are in hospital, and anything that makes their lives more normal, and allows them to retain their independence and dignity is to be welcomed.

Vice Admiral Sir Peter Woodhead KCB

This is a brilliant scheme and I am delighted to support it. Looking after older people is becoming an increasingly large part of the work of the hospitals in Brighton, and in the country generally. Initiatives like this will undoubtedly improve the care and treatment elderly patients receive, as well as providing some valuable learning that can be shared with anyone in this field.

Professor Jon Cohen, Emeritus Professor of Infectious Diseases, Brighton & Sussex Medical School President, International Society for Infectious Diseases

I welcome Small Acts of Friendship as a new initiative to support elderly patients in our local hospitals. With opportunities for social activities, a little pampering and a focus on maintaining mobility we are sure people will benefit in many ways and be able to return more quickly to their community. You can help by making a donation via this website.

Sally Gunnell, OBE DL

A big thank you from Jowers Ward for our TV with built in DVD player. We have been able to have film afternoons and keep patients entertained.

Karen Lee, Ward Manager, Jowers Ward (Elderly Medicine), Royal Sussex County Hospital

Friends Office

37 St George's Road
Brighton BN2 1ED

T: 01273 66 4936


Friends Shop

95 St James's St
Brighton BN2 1TP

T: 01273 604 868

Want to find out more?

The Royal Sussex County Hospital is a vital part of our Community. There are lots of ways you can get involved with supporting it. Contact us to find out more.