Posted by Barb LAWRENCE on Nov 03, 2023
Rotary Lilydale has collaborated with Maroondah Hospital Mental Health Unit to supply care packs to all people admitted to the unit. These packs contain personal care items as well as things to keep the hands busy and brain stimulated. Over 1500 packs will be gifted each year. Items for the pack will be purchased, received as donations or recycled through Rotary DIK (Donations in Kind) Warehouse. Donations of item or funds will be gratefully accepted. Alternatively - raffle tickets can be purchased to support the project.

Article published in the Star Newspaper, written by Mikayla Van Loon 

The Rotary Club of Lilydale (RCL) delivered hundreds of packs of care items and activities to Maroondah Hospital’s Mental Health Inpatient Unit on Thursday 29 June.

Wanting to help provide comfort and a sense of self, Barb Lawrence alongside Cheryl Mackay and the help of RCL members, put together over 200 gift bags for patients.

“We’re really happy to do it and we think it’s a great, worthwhile cause,” Barb said.

Stocked with personal care items like lip balms and moisturisers, as well as notebooks and puzzle books, Cheryl said those items make all the difference when you come in with nothing.

“It wasn’t until we did the tour that we realised how bad the situation is within the whole community but how about something like this can make a difference,” Cheryl said.

“That’s what we’re trying to do with Rotary is just to make a difference, make people’s lives easier.”

Nurse unit manager Clare said as a 50 bed unit, caring for people aged 18 to 65, being able to supply something for every patient is a challenge, so this will go a long way in providing extra support.

“It gives people a sense of self back. Often people when they come into hospital they don’t want to come into hospital. It’s often a very difficult time in their life,” she said.

“Sometimes because of the nature of needing to ensure safety for everyone people have restrictions on what they can bring into the hospital.

“So just being able to give them something of their own, just general comfort items that we all take for granted and having something on arrival as a gift is something that makes it a little bit more comfortable for them and a little bit more inviting to the unit.”

The notebooks, Clare said, are also a practical way of helping someone open up or express how they are feeling without needing to speak.

“Journals are very important to people to be able to write about their thoughts and feelings and it also helps us understand someone who’s line of communication is a bit more difficult,” she said.

Having worked with RCL in the past, Clare said a partnership has begun to form between the two entities, something she is extremely grateful for.

RCL last delivered a range of clothing items and shoes to hand out to patients who may not have warm clothes or solid shoes particularly in winter.

“I’ve been here for three years and that partnership existed well before coming to the unit here but I’ve seen nothing like it,” Clare said.

“It helps us in a number of ways. It’s cold throughout the winter and often people have been homeless before they come into us, so being able to fit them out with clothes, or shoes, it’s really helpful.”

While Barb and Cheryl want to continue providing the gift bags to the hospital on a regular basis, Barb said fundraising will have to happen to fund the work.

“They have a 1500 person intake a year. So even if the pack is only $5 that’s still $7500,” Barb said.

“It’s a lot of money for us to raise to put towards one project. We do need some sort of sponsors.”