Patients on Sandford Ward in Oxford have enjoyed putting together their own personalised self-soothe boxes, thanks to support from Oxford Health Charity.


The gentlemen, who are over 65 and are experiencing severe mental health and/or dementia, work with staff to create their own individual list identifying things that are meaningful to them. Staff then purchase related items using charity funds and then pass to the gentlemen to pack within their own boxes.

The kits are fully personalised and can contain anything that can help distract or sooth someone feeling distressed. They could include things like calming scents, a favourite food, activities to focus on or letters/photos of loved ones. Once completed, the boxes are kept safe and passed to the patient as they leave hospital.

Sandra Diesel, Activity Coordinator for Sandford Ward explained,

“We are very grateful for funding from Oxford Health Charity which has enabled us to roll this project out across Sandford Ward."

“The patients and staff really enjoy this activity, from the initial discussions which often provides opportunity for our gentlemen to reminisce and share stories about why they’ve chosen a particular item. Through to physically receiving the items and packing the boxes; and then of course being reunited with their box as they are discharged.”

“They are proving a useful recovery aid, but of course patients use the boxes in different ways. Some people might open their box when they are feeling very low and are worried they might hurt themselves, or when they are panicky or very anxious.”

“As the boxes are filled with items of meaning to the individual, they can help calm, soothe, distract and provide reassurance. The boxes each contain contact numbers for friends and family, and helpline numbers alongside the enjoyable or relaxing activities.”

Oxford Health Charity are also working to support this initiative with our other older adult wards within Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire.   

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