What is the walking group?
Jenny Mathieson, Occupational Therapist writes: At Shalom House we aim to bring interest and enjoyment back into patients' lives, and to broaden their horizons beyond their illness.
With this in mind, I discussed possible activities with a small group. When it became clear that they wanted to experience the countryside again, I approached the Walkability Officer from Pembrokeshire National Park Authority for advice. Instead, he volunteered to meet the group and a week later he led a 'wheelchair walk' around a local bird reserve. He now leads our fortnightly walks, reintroducing patients to the natural world via beaches and coast paths.
The group has been a great success, with patients referred to us just for the walks and many detemined to go out whatever the weather. Colleagues who were initially sceptical now support us whole-heartedly, recognising that, as one patient said, "it was good to feel alive." Walking is popular because it's such an ordinary activity. It allows patients to escape from being unwell and to meet people unrelated to their treatment. To some it may have seemed a surprising decision to take very ill people on walks, but it has been borne out by the improvement in patients' mood and their increased enjoyment in life. While there are obviously risks, they are the risks associated with living not dying.