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Our Patients and Families

MediCinema is all about the people we help – the patients living with illness and the families caring for them. We’re grateful to every patient who shares their inspiring story with us.

Hospital is the last place anyone wants to be but every year millions of patients are admitted to hospitals throughout the UK. While some only have to spend mere hours on a ward, many are admitted for weeks, months and even years at a time. As well as the pain, discomfort and other difficulties their condition brings, being in hospital often causes its own problems. Patients are almost always restricted to the hospital grounds with some unwilling even to leave their ward. All of this isolates patients and makes it almost impossible for them to have any sense of normality.

MediCinema gives patients a break from their ward, the chance to do something normal with their family and escape all they’re going through. Time and again our patients and their families tell us of the massive difference this makes to their hospital stay and life afterwards.

The Taylors' Story

When the Taylors' son, Joseph, was just one week old, he was admitted to Evelina London Children's Hospital with bronchitis and pneumonia. He was put on a heart bypass machine, which did all the work for his heart and lungs for five weeks, including over the Christmas period, but sadly Joseph passed away.

His mum, Jo, explained how MediCinema helped them all at such a difficult Christmas:

"There was nowhere really for Joseph's brother and sister, aged five and two and a half to stay, and when they visited it was quite hard, especially as it was Christmas time.

"So for my husband to take them to the MediCinema was amazing, really. As they were so young, a trip to the cinema was really exciting for them. It’s a positive memory from that time. My daughter still remembers it five years later.

"We couldn’t take Joseph, but we know that anything to brighten or normalise that time is so important – for patients to be able to lose themselves in a film – you can’t put a price on that.

"Hospital for parents is so stressful – to do something normal, you have no idea, it was totally invaluable. Even now, five years later, I’m really grateful."

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The McKerrells' Story

When Heather McKerrell’s three-year-old daughter, Jessica, had to have open heart surgery in the Royal Hospital for Children in Glasgow, MediCinema proved to be a lifeline for the whole family. But it was Jessica’s older brother, Aaron, who got the most out of their family trips to MediCinema. Heather explains:

"Jessica was born with multiple heart defects. Her surgery was two days before her third birthday and we were in hospital for a total of 12 days.

“Initially when we were invited to the cinema I admit I was slightly apprehensive. However it turned out to be one of the best things we did. If we hadn’t it would have been one of my biggest regrets and life would be so different for us.

“It was actually my son Aaron that coming to the cinema helped the most. CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services) gave a lot of input for Aaron. He was having a really difficult time. If anything the whole hospital experience was more traumatic for him than it was for Jessica herself. His life was turned   upside down by everything that was happening. Going into ICU is very intimidating and scary. At eight you are old enough to understand it is serious. You have an understanding, but without fully understanding. Watching your sister and family go through this, it is so difficult to be able to communicate how you are feeling and put things into words. We also live over an hour away from the hospital, so he had to either stay with relatives or travel a lot to and from the hospital.

“When you have an ill child, it is very easy for siblings to feel like everything is about their brother or sister and not them. And coming to the MediCinema meant he could have time with his mummy. I had been having to spend all my time with Jessica, so it was wonderful to have quality time with him. This was two hours just for Aaron. Gave him a sense of being. Coming to the cinema allowed him just to be himself. To escape.

It has now been almost two years and he still talks about it. He has written at least half a dozen essays in school about his trip to the cinema with the colourful seats. He doesn’t speak about the hospital at all, but does still talk about the film and the MediCinema.

"Aaron no longer has CAMHS support and he himself claims the MediCinema did it."

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David's Story

David was in hospital for a quarter of a year with an infection in his spine. He explains what that was like and how MediCinema helped:

 

‘I suddenly woke up with this intense pain in my back and it just continued and continued. I simply couldn’t stand it, and so I hobbled up to Charing Cross Hospital. I was given pain killers, but then about six weeks later my legs started to feel very wobbly - like shivers, spasms, going up my legs. I simply could not walk. I was on my hands and knees, no power, in agony, pains thudding into my back all the time. I thought I was going to die.

 

‘I came to Chelsea and Westminster Hospital and was here for 12 weeks including two weeks rehabilitation, trying to get this pain down and get me walking again. I couldn’t walk, I had to learn again; but the pain prevented me from really getting into it. I’d be screaming in pain.

 

‘When I found out there was a cinema in the hospital I was astonished! I thought it might be a room with a large screen. It’s a real cinema! It’s exactly the same as if you went to a multiplex cinema. It’s a real cinema with a brilliant screen, and comfortable seating, and more importantly - you have room for beds. And every time I go, I go in my bed. It’s just like going to the movies… well it is! It is going to the movies! You can be here and can forget about everything - I don’t feel any pain in my back when I’m in the cinema. I’m in my bed and I’m comfortable.

 

‘Trevor, in the bed next to me in the cinema, is in the same business. (Trevor is a screenwriter and David is an actor). We’ve never met before but we chatted as though we knew each other. We’ve met twice in the cinema now and we speak as if we’ve been away for a while and we just picked up again.

 

‘This is the first time I’ve been ill. I’m getting used to it now but in the beginning the whole thing was alien to me. My spirits were very low when I came in here. After the first movie I saw here I came back to the ward and there were people chatting about their lives and things, the screens were drawn, and I just broke down and cried because I felt so sorry for myself, and one of the nurses said “Are you crying about the film David?” and I said no I was not, I was just being self-indulgent. I couldn’t help it. I just wept because I had seen the world I am out of temporarily, putting everything on hold.

 

‘Seeing a real cinema in a hospital, and screening the movies you screen, to me it was a revelation. A total joy. It gives you a more uplifting experience than anything you can imagine.’

 

As well as sharing his story with us, David has also agreed to be one of our new patient ambassadors and as such spoke about his experiences at a recent event. Meeting David and hearing him tell his story really brought home to all our guests the importance of MediCinema and the enormous difference our screenings make to patients’ lives. If you’ve been a MediCinema patient and would like to share your story or find out more about becoming a patient ambassador, we would love to hear from you. Please email: info@medicinema.org.uk to get in touch. 

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Tara's Story

I have chronic conditions that constantly flare up and bring me into hospital which means I’m in hospital probably more than I’m at my actual home. 

 

What people don’t realise is that the day here for us is the same every day - breakfast at 7, then you have a wash, then you see the doctors, then afternoon nap, then you’ve got your dinner, they you’ve got medication, then you’ve got bedtime. And it’s the same thing every day. And you think ‘I’m stuck in a circle and I can’t do anything’. And you feel too sick, and you can’t go outside in case you catch a cold. 

 

So MediCinema has been great. When I found out about it and was asked ‘Do you want to go to the cinema?’ I was like ‘Yeah!’ I want to get off the ward, I want to feel like I’m actually doing something normal, because I used to go to the cinema all the time with my friends. And then here at MediCinema, afterwards, it was so nice to talk to everyone about the film, and it’s such a friendly atmosphere that it takes you away from what you’re going through on the ward. Whatever you’re going through on that day you always know that come Tuesday or Thursday you can go to the cinema and have a really good time. They’re the days I look forward to. I’m like ‘What film’s on this week?’

 

Sometimes I go with my husband, Rick. The first time he went in he was like ‘Woah! This is an actual cinema!’ I was like ‘I told you!’He was assuming it would be a room with a TV set up! 

 

It’s nice to have him sit on the bed with me and just cuddle up like we would at home on the sofa. It’s like we’re back at home rather than in a hospital. It gave us that time as a couple that we are missing out on with me being in hospital. It was nice to make a date night of it. We’re in a cinema, enjoying it like a normal couple.

 

That’s not my husband in the photograph! That’s Vincenzo, one of the nurses. I love talking to Vincenzo about the films we’ve seen. Yesterday, after Dunkirk, we had about an hour's discussion! 

 

In hospital, I didn’t have connection with the outside world. I didn’t feel like I was living. And it’s things like going to the cinema that take you away from this place; the medications, the monotony of the day. At least with the cinema, you can go there, you know the nurses, you know they will help you, and you know you can just relax and stop thinking about what’s going on back in the ward.

 

I’m not being funny, but if I didn’t have the cinema, my cheese would have slipped off my cracker. 

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Alexander's Story

When two-year-old Alexander couldn’t stand up a few days after catching chickenpox, the out-of-hours doctor sent him straight to A&E in Watford where they found he had septic arthritis in his knee. He was rushed in an ambulance to Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, 15 miles away. There, he was kept in isolation for fourteen days and only left his room to have operations or tests.

His mum Gabby slept beside him in a pull-out bed every night while his dad stayed at home with his sister.

‘I only saw my daughter twice in two weeks,’ said Gabby.

‘Trying to get Alexander to sleep was very difficult. At the beginning he couldn’t eat, so I couldn’t eat in front of him. He couldn’t walk, so it was difficult to keep him entertained.’

Gabby saw a poster for MediCinema in the lifts. ‘It’s a genius idea. I never would have imagined there was an actual cinema inside the hospital.

The first time Alexander was allowed to leave his room, he went to MediCinema.

‘You instantly don’t feel like you’re in a hospital, even though there are people with drips, etc., you’re taken out of the hospital environment. The actual cinema is really lovely – bright and colourful.

‘For him to get out of the room for a decent amount of time was so good. Everybody he saw at hospital he was wary of because he thought he was going to be poked or prodded, but once he settled down he was really excited. He crawled for the first time in two weeks. It was really nice for him to see other children, too, and I was really excited myself!

‘For me, it was nice to chat to other parents and watch something other than CBeebies! It made me switch off.

‘You shouldn’t underestimate the difference even a little bit of help can make. Plus for parents of children – it’s hard work. You forget that yourself. You need to make sure you keep yourself sane. MediCinema does exactly that.

‘You can’t underestimate the difference it can make to a family – to be in the cinema but still safely in hospital. Thank you so much.’

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Syeda's Story

Syeda was a normal 20 year old when she caught an infection which would change her life forever.

 'All of my organs collapsed, and I suffered from sepsis which resulted in me having multiple amputations, including losing both legs above the knee. For a long time, the doctors labelled me as ‘clinically dead’.

‘Before I fell ill I was your average 20 year old – going to university, going out with friends and enjoying life. When I fell ill, all of that was taken away from me. It was so hard being stuck in the same position, staring at the same four walls every day for months on end, just wishing for a change of scenery.

 'MediCinema gave me a break from the monotony. It was what I would look forward to every Saturday and I remember counting down the hours till it was time to go again! Even if it was only for a couple of hours, it gave me the opportunity to feel like me again, to feel normal. It’s the only place in such a huge building of struggles and pain where you will hear so much laughter and see so many smiles. It felt like a community, where patients from so many different wards, each with their different journeys, would come together and forget what they were going through. I met so many other patients through the service, before the film starts the atmosphere is buzzing and everyone is talking. It’s a place to relax and share your own story, but also listen to others and be there for someone because you understand what they are going through.’

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Becky's Story

Becky has sepsis for which she has needed decompression surgery on her spine and is due to have neurosurgery. She has been in the Royal Victoria Infirmary for about five weeks and has visited the MediCinema at least four times.

‘MediCinema makes a huge difference. It brings a feeling of normality as it gets you out of your hospital room and allows you to see different people, which I think is really positive.

‘I admit there are times I have felt low, especially when the surgery I was scheduled for was postponed and my parents had to return to their home in Edinburgh 120 miles away, but MediCinema has helped.

‘During the day I have approximately four hours of visiting time to look forward to in 24 hours, so it makes a difference being able to see other people outside of visiting hours.

‘As my parents live so far away it’s not always easy for them to visit and MediCinema gives me something else to look forward to, and when they are here we can go to the MediCinema and do something ‘normal’ with them rather than sit in the hospital ward.

 ‘I have just seen a film and am already looking forward to the next screening!’

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Robert's Story

Robert is 31 and has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, a genetic condition that gradually causes muscles to weaken progressively over time. He was admitted to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Glasgow on the 14th May after suffering a bout of pneumonia so severe his heart stopped for two minutes in A&E. 

Robert was fitted with a tracheostomy and ventilator which saved his life but had a huge effect on his ability to move around and made him very anxious about leaving the ward.

After four months he was still in the Intensive Therapy Unit (ITU). He hadn’t left the ward once.

His nurses approached us about having a screening for Robert to give him some time off the ward, something to look forward to and hopefully ease his troubles.

We visited Robert, and after explaining about MediCinema to make him comfortable with the idea of leaving the ward, were delighted to be able to arrange a special private screening for him. Sci-fi fan Robert even got to pick the film he wanted too!

After his first MediCinema experience Robert said:

'I really appreciated being able to visit the cinema and to see a film after spending so long in hospital (over 16 weeks so far) and it was quite an experience.  It was also wonderful to spend time with my parents as a family like we would do had I been at home. It brought a sense of normality back into my life that has been sorely lacking in the months I have been in hospital.  I am very much looking forward to repeating the experience! Thank you very much for the opportunity to make being in hospital a little more bearable.”

Since the first visit, Robert has had several further visits and hopefully will have many more. His parents, Eunice and Robert Sr, who accompany Robert to the screenings with his specialist nurses, added:

'It meant a lot to us as parents to see our son smile again after such a long time stuck in Intensive Care. It gives us a chance to do something together as a family that isn’t hospital related and is a little bit of normality in what is going to be a long ongoing struggle back to health for our son.'

Laura, one of the nurses who organised Robert's screening was on shift the day of his first screening and contacted us to say:

'I have just come on for nightshift and the difference in Robert’s mood is amazing! I can't thank you enough for putting everything in place and making this happen for him. Sounds like it all ran smoothly and his family and staff who escorted were saying what a fantastic facility the cinema is and how well it is run. Thank you so much again I'm sure I'll see you again soon as I think this may be the start of regular visits for Robert! He is already thinking about next week!'

 Ruth, Senior Charge Nurse added: 'Robert was the happiest we have seen him since admission to ITU so thank you for all your help and support. This change of mood and positivity is infectious and we can already see the big difference this is making to Robert.'

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Mr Levy's Story

68-year-old Mr. Levy, a Parkinson's sufferer, spent considerable periods of time at St. Thomas' Hospital in London, where he was treated for his condition and the injuries he sustained after a fall in his home.

Mr. Levy has no family - his partner died several years ago - and, although he values the care he received at St. Thomas', as he says, "No one likes being in hospital." He found the months on the ward difficult and lonely. "There's not a lot to do really: watch television; go to your room and read a book; sleep."

Mr. Levy first heard about MediCinema when the Cinema Manager at St. Thomas' was on her ward round telling his neighbours about the film on show that evening. "And she said, 'Would you like to come along?' And I said, 'Yes, I'd like to get away from the hospital environment - just for an hour.' It relaxes the mind. You seem to forget you're in hospital; you're concentrating on the film."

It turned out that Mr. Levy was a film enthusiast and a big fan of musicals (his favourite film isThe King and I). Over the following months and up until his discharge from the hospital Mr. Levy attended every single screening, soon becoming a favourite with the MediCinema nurses and volunteers - especially with the ladies! Whatever the film, Mr. Levy was one of the first patients down. "I'd think, 'It's a film. I'm not on the ward. I'm here with other people. Thank God.'"

Mr. Levy says what he values most about MediCinema is the "friendly surroundings". "MediCinema does a lot. Going into hospitals you brighten people's life up...sometimes it's [patients'] only means of getting to the outside world... In my case it was about finding people who care."

Mr. Levy now lives in a residential home where he receives the round-the-clock care and support he needs. But he would love to visit a MediCinema again and would like to see MediCinemas in care homes as well as in hospitals. "I know when I went to the cinema I'd come back and I was so happy. I used to sleep like a log. I was content I had been in a cinema...where I was known [to be] ill.

"[The other patients] enjoyed going to the cinema. It got them away from the ward. It got them away from the clatter of noise on the ward; the screams sometimes of patients in the dark. [MediCinema] must be a comfort to lots of people, especially the lonely."

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Matt's Story

In July 2011 Corporal Matt Webb was on patrol in Helmand Province in Afghanistan when he stepped on an IED. He lost both legs and his left arm.

Following his injuries Matt was treated at the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre (DMRC) at Headley Court in Epsom. Over the past two years he has learnt to walk again and regain the use of an arm through prosthetics.

When he heard about the plans to open a MediCinema at Headley Court, Matt thought – like so many of the patients there – that it would just be a “room with a TV…and I was amazed that it was a proper, miniature cinema.”

Matt is a big fan of the cinema – especially of the comedy nights and sing-along screenings we hold at Headley Court as they are “a great way to chill out with the guys”. For many of the service personnel who undergo the demanding rehabilitation programme at the centre the evenings can be a lonely and difficult time. “Film just makes you feel better and makes you forget what you’ve been doing for that day.”

Matt has kindly allowed us to tell his story as part of our new series of cinema commercials which look at how MediCinema is benefiting patients all over the country. As Matt says, “It would be great if MediCinema was further afield than in just a few hospitals around the UK.”

Please help us continue to support people like Matt, people who aren’t able to visit their local cinema, by donating £3 towards a MediCinema ticket. Text MEDI03 £3 to 70070.

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Uzayr's Story

Uzayr was born with a complicated renal condition; his kidneys just didn't work. When he was three, they began to fail and he travelled to the Evelina Children's Hospital in London three days a week for life saving dialysis.  

Uzayr recently had a kidney transplant and due to the serious nature of his condition needed expert medical care, visiting the hospital every day for treatment.

He's never been on holiday and rarely gets to enjoy social experiences with his friends so a visit to MediCinema was a chance for Uzayr forget about his treatment but a time to socialise with his family and friends.

Shafina, Uzayr's Mum said "Like many families, we could not travel the long distance from home to the hospital on such a regular basis so we needed to relocate to London for treatment, moving away from family, friends and school for long periods of time .

MediCinema has given us the precious opportunity to enjoy regular family outings that bring us laughter and fun at very difficult times".

Uzayr added, "MediCinema is a fantastic way for children like myself to forget about our worries and pains. As the other children there have different health issues, if somebody cries or coughs no one minds because we all understand. For me, as soon as that door closes I am in a different world. I forget all about my pain."

Uzayr is still undergoing treatment and visits the MediCinema often. 

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Aneurin's Story

"Hi, my name is Aneurin. I am 15 years old and I love my school because I have lots of good friends there and the teachers and supports are really terrific. They make my school-life so cool and what's great is - we even have a lunch-time film club once a week.

I have dyspraxia and A.S. which basically means I like order and routine, I'm not a big fan of change and interaction can sometimes be a bit of a challenge for me: with the help and support I get at school and the fantastic new Serennu Children's Centre, life is good!

My great interest is film, media and going to the cinema to catch up on all the latest releases - I really enjoy researching movies and writing reviews of the films I watch. I seem to be able to remember massive amounts of 'film facts'. I also write a regular 'film file' for Newport'sWicked News publication, in which I preview all forthcoming releases, and I am one of the members of the editorial team (thanks for the break)…

The Serennu Children's Centre is a fantastic facility, it's a bit of a 'one-stop-shop' where you can access everything you need under one roof: all the  treatment you require as well as having lots of great leisure activities such as football, self-defence, a youth club and, for me, the icing on the cake has to be the newly opened MediCinema. It was like all my Christmases had come at once - being asked to the MediCinema's first film screening and getting the opportunity to watch the new Ice Age 4: Continental Drift film in 3D.

My biggest honour was being asked to cut the ribbon for the opening screening; a day to remember.

The cinema is awesome. Every time I've visited the Serennu the cinema has been "work-in-progress". Well, I can honestly say this was definitely something worth waiting for. A truly amazing facility, a unique experience and one I intend to repeat many times.  Not only a fabulous feast for the eyes but a truly immersive experience - a place you can come to, forget your troubles and lose yourself in a world of fun and fantasy.

I am so proud to be associated with the MediCinema charity and the wonderful pleasure and joy it will bring to so many families who use the Serennu Children's Centre."  Aneurin Davies

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I am back in again, this is the 17th time this year. At least I have MediCinema to look forward to.



- Callum, Glasgow

MediCinema lets us simply sit and be together, hold hands and enjoy each others company. When my husband visits me on the ward he’s awkward and doesn’t know whether he should hug me or what to say. MediCinema lets us simply sit and be together, hold hands and enjoy each others company without the anxiety of him not knowing how to behave.



- Anna, Newcastle

Going to the cinema in my bed now seems to be the most normal thing in the world. I’ve been in this bed for so long that going to the cinema in it now seems to be the most normal thing in the world, and when I get out of hospital, walking into my local cinema, not being in my bed, with no drips or monitors will be a bit strange



- Angela, London

It was extremely touching to see the positive impact it had on the patients. Our four month old son has had two heart operations at St Thomas’s and the MediCinema provided us all with a welcome break from the stress. It was extremely touching to see the positive impact it had on the other patients too, particularly the children. Long days were broken up for us by MediCinema and it was quite a lump in the throat moment seeing wheelchair and even bed bound kids excitedly arriving to see the latest movie.



- Lee, London