A look back at the Open Day

2013_216_openday“A fantastic day that’s been organised; really giving something back to the community”

“Just so much to do, we haven’t got round it all”

“Everyone there to welcome you in the white t-shirts has had a smile on their face”

“I came to help it desensitise my daughter about being in hospital”

face2We haven’t reviewed and analysed all the feedback yet. But these are just some of the comments we can remember from talking to the visitors who came to yesterday’s Open Day. There were lots of people, visitors and staff, with smiles on their faces (sometimes paint too!) as they left Derriford Hospital yesterday.

After weeks of preparation, hard work and many staff going above and beyond, hours of setting up and making sure everything was ready, the one question no-one knew the answer to was: will people come? Will members of our local community want to turn up to a hospital open day? Is this something people want?

Everyone involved in making the day happen, our staff and our incredible volunteers, gathered at 9am for the safety briefing. By the time we had got back to the main entrance – complete with marquee, at 9.30am –  visitors were already making their way in. They came … in all we estimate that we had around 2,000. We gave out in the region of 700 programmes at the main entrance and we gave one programme to, on average, a family or group of three. We had hoped to be more scientific in our measurement, but it was just too busy.

Who came?
Families, children armed with teddy bears, students, older people, carers, some staff on their day off, staff with their families, those interested in working with the NHS, people just interested in finding out more about the hospital … it’s impossible to categorise.

What did they do and see?
Even though as an organising committee, we had made the event happen, even I hadn’t realised just how much was on for people to see and do until I ran around all the 12 major areas to pop in and check everyone was ok and came back an hour and a half later.

Teddy_Bear_hospThe children’s theatre area, offering a giant-size operation game, plasters, simulation activities, face painting and much more, was heaving at times and we had to ask people to go and visit some of the other activities and come back.

Specialist liver nurse Amanda Clements told me she didn’t stop scanning people for the full four hours! There was such a queue to see her, I couldn’t even get in to check she was ok. Luckily she was and went home smiling.

Our anaesthetists running ‘Comfortably Numb’ were much the same. The bakery staff kept them supplied with coffee as they could not leave their very popular activity showing people where their nerves are, using ultrasound.

Our main theatres, tucked away at the bottom of the hospital, was packed.

The tours of the site were well-subscribed.

The military created some spectacular fake wounds which parents as well as children were proud to sport on their arms and faces!

Fracture clinic, pathology, the physio gym, healthy bones, maternity, the orthoptists, the renal team … they were all busy chatting with visitors.

decontaminationThe only area that didn’t receive as many visitors as we had hoped was the decontamination tent in the Emergency Department courtyard … it might not have helped that it was outside and we did have some really heavy downpours during the day. So thank you guys for keeping going right until the end.

Our artists heard and tried to bring to visual life some of the personal and heartfelt stories visitors gave them as they worked together to try to create a picture of what great care looks like. Our artists were quite moved by the way people shared their intimate experiences so willingly. This information will be used by our Patient Experience team to feed into the work they lead on to improve care for patients and their families.

It’s really important to stress that although the day was designed to be interactive, fun and educational, there was also a very serious purpose – to meet with our community face to face, talk and listen, capture some of the feedback and use it to help us improve.

TheatreI was told that one person who was visiting the hospital to see someone, thought it was inappropriate to hold such an event. We did, of course, have to be mindful that we were still a working hospital and there were people coming in and out, some of whom were very anxious and troubled. But I hope when we analyse the feedback it shows that most people thought it was worth doing and that we did it in a respectful way.

I couldn’t finish without saying a massive thank you to the staff who have worked really hard over the past couple of months, taking on the responsibility of planning this on top of their everyday duties and many of whom gave up the Saturday with their family and friends without any recompense, to make the Open Day happen. You really are the best.

Equalled only by our volunteers who came along and acted as guides, helpers, OpenDayMakers – always, always with a smile and a genuine desire to help.

At times like this, it’s incredible to feel part of a very talented team at Derriford Hospital – made up of many different people with different professional qualifications, different roles to perform, but who are united in  working for Derriford and the NHS and wanting to do the best that they can.

Thank you. It hardly cuts it, but thank you.

With a fair wind behind us and the continued support and goodwill of those staff and volunteers, we hope to be able to make the Open Day a regular, bi-annual event and bring you another one in the spring of 2015. Who knows, the sun may even come out for us next time and we might be able to put on that BBQ we had really hoped to do.


Head of Communications


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