Local football hero James McFadden has cut the ribbon on a new hair salon at University Hospital Wishaw – which is being manned by students of New College Lanarkshire.
The ex-Motherwell FC and Scotland icon was joined by Clyde 1’s Superscoreboard host Gordon Duncan to officially launch the service and welcome the first in-patient clients.
The salon, which has been named Styles & Smiles, will provide free hairdressing and barbering services to long-stay patients.
It will initially operate two days a week, with Commercial Hairdressing students practising their skills on a Tuesday and Barbering and Male Grooming students providing treatments on a Friday.
James McFadden said: “It’s a brilliant facility and the idea is amazing – it’s going to help patients to get out of their ward, feel pampered and enjoy a change of scenery.
“When you think of a hairdressing service at a hospital, you think of someone coming in one day a week and trying to do as many patients as they can, but the fact that this facility is here means that patients can come in and feel like they’re in a proper salon, which is great.
“Many people have physical injuries, but you forget about the mental side of it, and this will really brighten up the life of someone who has spent quite a bit of time in hospital.”
Radio presenter Gordon Duncan added: “Patients come here to have their health looked after, but if they can have their wellbeing boosted as well then I’m sure that will make a big difference.
“It’s impressive to see all this hard work come together with the various partnerships and the local businesses who have supported the project.”
The hospital’s Meaningful Activity Club (MAC) will arrange for in-patient clients to attend 45-minute appointments, with a nurse or clinical support worker accompanying the patients during their treatments.
Chief Nurse Anne Leitch said: “I’m really proud to be involved in such a fabulous initiative and I’m pleased about the benefit that it’s going to have for our patients, because ultimately that’s what we’re here every day for: to deliver the best care possible, and this is going to really enhance that.
“We had the first meeting in January, so the turnaround has been very quick – we all focused and worked hard and the collaboration between everybody has made it happen.
“It’s a great opportunity for New College Lanarkshire students to be in a real, live working hairdressing environment and the interaction that they will have with the patients will develop their skills.”
Using combined funding from Serco, NHS Lanarkshire and Summit Healthcare, the salon has been kitted out with two height-adjustable back-wash sinks, two chairs, an overhead hood dryer, a relaxed seating area and it has been decorated with retro posters and advertisements.
It was supported with donations from several businesses, including The Glass Man, Altro Flooring, Burnside Flooring, Bradstone Lighting, and Hair & Beauty World.
Rhona Dunsmore, Soft Services General Manager for Serco, said: “Our aim was to create an environment that would allow patients to go to a hairdresser without the clinical or medical aspects of a hospital.
“As many of us know, a stay in hospital can be daunting and to some, having the diminished opportunity to attend to personal grooming can leave some feeling down, which can have an effect on mental health and wellbeing.
“When patients go into that room, they’ll absolutely feel that they are in a hairdressing environment.
“I’m immensely proud of working for Serco on this project with our partners from NHS Lanarkshire and Summit Healthcare.
“I’d also like to thank Duncan McBride, Operations Manager for Serco, for his dedication to the project along with New College Lanarkshire staff and students for their commitment and access to free hairdressing.”
Motherwell Campus lecturers Jackie McMahon and Jacqui Ward have been involved in the project from the outset and have worked closely with nursing and facilities staff at the hospital since January.
Anne Lynch, Head of Faculty of Service Industries at New College Lanarkshire, said: “Our students are continually looking for opportunities to showcase their skills by engaging with the local community, so we are delighted that our students will be providing hair styling treatments to patients.
“Our staff have worked as a team, often in their own time, to help make this happen for our learners, which will help them engage with a wide variety of people and gain vital business skills for their future careers.”
Andy O’Donnell, Serco Contract Director, added: “Ideas from Serco staff are encouraged through our ‘Serco Cares’ programme.
“The engagement from all who helped Styles & Smiles become a reality has been immense.
“By working together, we are very proud that we could make an idea come to life in such a short space of time, which will benefit our patients on a long-term basis.”