The Ward Activities programme is a direct response to the expressed needs and interests of patients and staff.
• Each activity lasts an hour
• We work across different wards in each hospital
• Activities happen at bedsides, in communal areas of the wards and in pubic spaces
• It is a constantly changing programme
The programme works across both performing and visual arts. The programme ranges from music, singing, songwriting, magic, comedy, craft and story telling.
Using interactive performance to gain a better understanding of patients’ needs and staff practice at Liberton Hospital in order to address immediate issues of low motivation, social isolation and boredom; ensuring relevance and greater impact of longer-term approaches.
We had been approached to provide input to Liberton in early 2018 as a date for a move of patients form Liberton to new wards at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital had been established and need for input identified by staff. For over a year the start date for the project was put off, as Liberton closure dates appeared imminent, only to be pushed back until a later date. During this time, we were also working as part of Specialist Dementia Unit Improvement Programme in partnership with Healthcare Improvement Scotland (report attached), funded by EVOC. We were interested in taking what we had learned from this work into other spaces facing similar issues.
Liberton specialises in medicine for elderly patients (a larger
percentage of whom have cognitive issues). In collaboration with with key staff
on the wards we decided in March 2019 that we should no longer hold off putting
anything on the wards, as the need for input was now seen as critical. Patients and staff had nothing on their wards
in regard to activity: ‘When we first
went in it felt terrible in there. A low mood. Tired people. Very empty and
isolating spaces as there were just the 4 wards working in the entire hospital
(and now just down to two!)’ – Miss Annabel Sings
Activity on wards had diminished over a period of years for patients and staff, in anticipation of closure, ‘we have not had regular activity over the last 8 to 10 years’ – staff nurse who has worked on ward over the last 19 years. A charge nurse identified: ‘There wasvery little happening, music in hospitals once a month. That’s it’. Little activity and the knowledge that the wards were supposedly closing imminently, had left staff feeling like they were in limbo. The impact on staff, patients and families was tangible. ‘I’m bank, its worse for the permanent staff. It’s a nice team and it’s worrying for them. When are all the patients going to go? They worry that they won’t be with same colleagues, that a good staff team will be split up’. – Bank staff nurse working on ward for last 5 years.
It is always brilliant working with the energetic activity coordinators Kim and Carey at the integrated Stroke Unit and Medicine of the Elderly wards at the Royal Infirmary. It is a mutual learning experience and it strengthens the impact of our work. Working collaboratively, we have made impactful arts and music happen and are excited to start working with newly-appointed activity coordinator Murray Fotheringham at Ward 120.
Recently artist Laura Aldrige worked with the activity coordinators and patients on the Stroke and Dementia wards at the RIE and she picks up the story from here: “I wanted to work in a way that was accessible for all patients; that is taking something that could work in multiple ways and have tasks within it that were flexible to allow as much participation as possible. I decided to work with block printing; the activity allowed for much collaboration and conversation between staff, myself and patients. There was a freedom to it that allowed for testing out more abstract ideas alongside more realistic or recognisable motifs.
Interestingly the printing process seemed to bring about conversations about what patients ‘used to do for a living.’ There was one woman in particular that had been a printer and she just had all this muscle memory and was able to just print non-stop, making the most beautiful prints composed of other people’s printing blocks; how she lined up the different printing blocks and chose complimentary colours was fantastic to see. It’s crucial that people come away feeling positive and that the activity has enhanced their feelings about themselves rather than remind them what they can’t do.”
We look forward to building on this work with Kim, Carey and Murray and creating permanent displays at the Stroke and Medicine for the Elderly wards.
From October to December 2018 artists Claire Barclay and Laura Spring worked with Carey Moss and Kim McGovern at the Royal Infirmary. Carey and Kim are the only two activity coordinators at the hospital and cover wards 101, 104, 201, 202 and 203; some are stroke wards and some are medicine of the elderly wards. Since the patient proﬁle on these wards varies, Claire and Laura had to come up with an activity that would work across all wards.
On the stroke wards patients may experience sensory and communication difﬁculties, problems reading, writing, and mobility issues as well as increased levels of tiredness and fatigue. On top of this hey are dealing with the emotional stress of having had a stroke. On the medicine of the elderly wards a large percentage of patients have dementia, which means we have to tailor activity to individuals who have memory loss, communication and language difﬁculties, impaired reasoning and judgment abilities as well as changes in visual perception.
Claire and Laura decided to try weaving exercises with the patients, as it was straightforward process with a high degree of repetition. This encouraged movement dexterity but also worked with dementia patients as the repetitive movements, over one, under one, became something all patients could process and understand.
Over the last months we have been working in partnership with The Scottish Book Trust and The Reading Agency to bring Reading Friends to care for the elderly wards. Reading Friends is a UK wide scheme that uses books and reading as a way of fostering friendship and creating meaningful moments that have long term effects.
We are one of just two projects in Scotland and the first to be bring this project onto hospital wards. Fifteen new volunteers with varied and interesting backgrounds are ready to deliver this brilliant programme after some first class training from our partners at Volunteer Edinburgh. More training is to come as we continue to recruit but we already have a few of our wonderful volunteers visiting Prospect Bank and St. Johns Hospital. Simon Jay, Artlink’s volunteer coordinator for Reading Friends, has been bringing an exciting energy to the scheme:
“Since our first volunteer meeting mid-January, we’ve had new volunteers join us and we’ve begun to get out onto the wards. The volunteers themselves will be able to share their personal experience at one of our regular volunteer meet ups. Personally I have observed how the act of companionship, through sitting alongside someone and reading, can make a difference in unquantifiable ways. For instance, one patient a volunteer was reading to became much more engaged during an hour together looking at photo-books of Edinburgh. Relatives who visited after a Reading Friend had been to visit mentioned that everyone found it easier to talk and engage with each other. On another occasion, visiting a particularly distressed patient in their room calmed them down immediately and they found the companionship very soothing.”Simon Jay, Reading Friends Volunteer Coordinator
It’s nearly time for the annual staff and patient exhibition! This year it will be taking place in the gallery at the Western General Hospital from 1st March – April 2018.
The exhibition so far has been developed by illustrator Laura Cave Macgowan, in collaboration with staff and patients who responded to an earlier call for ideas. She would like to invite you to explore the theme of ‘escapism’ through art, by considering the use of mark-making, lines and pattern in making a piece of work. Perhaps you could take inspiration from what you do to relax or ground yourself. Whether its gardening, visiting a landscape or reading your favourite book, you might want to focus on a detail, such as the surface of a leaf, tiles on a floor, or something more abstract – be as imaginative as you wish!
If you’d like to take part, please read the guidelines and complete the submissions form, returning it to us by Monday 12th February. All artwork should be framed and handed in to the Artlink office by Monday 19th February.
We’re very much looking forward to seeing all of your unique and creative responses to the theme.