Take Comfort From Pebbles With Messages Set In Stone

Hospital patients across Forth Valley are now able to receive a personally-painted pebble which fits snugly into the hand, bearing a message on one side from a loved one, family or friend.

The stones are designed to be a comfort at a time when visiting is restricted and it is hoped that the personal messages will create a connection between people who are separated.

Lisa Doran

The programme is being spearheaded by Lisa Doran, a secondary school teacher.

The hand-painted Comfort Stones are being made by volunteers who live in Forth Valley. They come in a variety of designs including seascapes, clouds, butterflies, flowers and insects such as ladybirds. Once painted, each one is sealed over with varnish so they may be sanitised before being given out in a small organza bag inside a plastic sealed bag which can be opened after 72 hours to comply with infection control policies.

The programme is being spearheaded by Lisa Doran, a secondary school teacher. She said: “I think it is so important to feel connected to the people we love when we are afraid or ill. When we can’t hold the hand of a loved one when sick in hospital, holding a stone painted with love with a message from them can bring so much comfort. Small things like this can make a big difference to someone’s wellbeing. To know you have not been forgotten and to know someone cares.

“Our volunteers all live or work in the local community. Some are staff from my workplace and others are from local rock painting groups. Many are painting rocks with their children as a shared activity or inviting friends and neighbours to become involved so our Facebook group has a great sense of community and people are really supportive of one another.”

Lisa adds they are also hoping to have an online tutorial from a professional artist as many of the stone painters are decorating pebbles for the first time.

Sandra Campbell, who works with NHS Forth Valley as Macmillan Nurse Consultant for Cancer and Palliative Care found the idea of Comfort stones inspiring. She explained: “We understand that you would prefer to be there in person with your loved one, holding their hands, but we hope this gives you the opportunity to be there in an alternative and creative way. This is a perfect example of being able to bring people together through kindness and compassion.”

Comfort Stones will be available in all wards at Forth Valley Royal Hospital and in the four community hospitals, Falkirk, Stirling Clackmannanshire and Bo’ness. A small supply will also be available in the Spiritual Care Centre at Forth Valley Royal Hospital. Hundreds will be available in the coming weeks.

To arrange for a patient to receive a stone, friends and relatives can phone the ward and share the message they wish to send. This will then be written by staff using a permanent marker pen and the pebble will be passed on to the patient. NHS Forth Valley’s Spiritual Care Team can also be contacted on 01324 566071 to help facilitate a message for patients they are supporting.

Anyone wishing to paint stones can volunteer to: fvcomfortstones@gmail.com

Details of the scheme are available on Facebook:@forthvalleycomfortstones and on Twitter: @fvcomfortstones