Tina provides graphic insight into life in learning disabled hospitals in Croatia

Published: 10 December 2007 at 10:47

Anglia Ruskin University nursing student Tina Bannister has provided a graphic insight into her recent trip to two learning disabled hospitals in Croatia.

Tina, who has just graduated, recorded her personal and professional thoughts on the state of healthcare in the two hospitals, providing adult and child care, which are both supported by Anglia Ruskin University’s Chelmsford campus Chaplaincy initiative, through its Mission Croatia campaign.

The campaign, which has been running for ten years, was initiated following the Balkan conflict of 1991 when the special needs of fifty children in Kraljevica were highlighted.  A working party of just over thirty students has been every year since to decorate, refurbish and provide nursing support within the two institutions, one at Kraljevica on the coast and the other more inland at Stancic.

The reason for the trips, as described by Tina, is to make the hospital environments bright, clean and cheerful as there is research evidence available to confirm that this helps to improve relationships and the feeling of wellbeing.

Describing the trip, Tina said:

“What this trip wasn’t – was a holiday.  No previoius skills were needed just the willingness to be part of a team and work hard.”

“After ten years of refurbishment and renovation, the hospital at Kraljevica is now a centre of excellence within Croatia and deemed as a showpiece for other such like centres to follow.”

But at Stancic, Tina witnessed some distressing scenes when she was asked one morning to help out with feeding at breakfast.

“The horror I felt when I observed that most of the clients are fed laying down flat, without a pillow, with spoonfuls of food being given to them at an alarming rate.”

After feeding, Tina helped take some of the clients out in their pushchairs and wheelchairs. 

“They loved it, the look of wonder and excitement on their faces looking up at the sky, and touching flowers and leaves is a memory I shall always treasure.”

“What I have come to appreciate is that not all health systems are as patient centred and as well funded as the British NHS that we take so much for granted.”

Tina has also recorded her experiences of another placement she recently completed - in Australia.