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.
The first phase has just finished, and we were delighted to have author Laura Marney as our first writer. Laura is a Scottish writer with a great sense of humour, as anyone who has read her second novel, ‘Nobody Loves a Ginger Baby’, will know! Laura mentored 6 people over a 10-week period, two of whom are NHS members of staff.
We were delighted to also have Merrick Pope working on the project with us, to support patients and make sure that we are following all the guidelines. Merrick is a Clinical Nurse Specialist, Self Harm Service at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital and has worked on writing projects in the past. There was lots of good dry witted banter between us all in the development and implementation of the project.
We have been really impressed by the commitment of the participants and the scope, range and skill of writing that has come out of phase one. We will be sharing those results in both text and audio podcasts in later posts, so please look out for them.
We are currently talking to Carol Paterson of the MAC (Meaningful Activities Centre) at the Western General, and we are excited about developing the next part of the project with them, delivering both the writing project and some training for staff.
We still have more capacity, so we would really like to hear from departments or members of staff at the Western General, Royal Infirmary or St Johns who would be interested in developing another writing project with us. Please contact Trevor on email@example.com to start those conversations.
Joan is a long time friend of the Hospital Arts Programme and has been attending the workshops at the Glasshouses for many years. For anyone who knows Joan, they will know that lockdown is not going to put a stop to her creativity. Here you can see Joan displaying some of the works she had done over the last couple of months, being careful to socially distance of course.
Joan has created a series of fun Crafting with Joan cards which you can download from here, they contain all the instructions you need to craft your own creatures.
First of all, we want to acknowledge the amazing work that NHS staff have been doing over the last 5 months in what are incredibly challenging times. THANK YOU.
Although Anne and Trevor have not been able to work on the wards during lockdown, they have been busy. Anne has kept in touch with various workshop participants setting different art tasks for them to try out, from still life to painting flowers to views from their windows. As time passed, participants began setting each other tasks. Other activities have included the Edinburgh Landmarks exhibition at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital which features artwork by workshop participants and staff members.
Just getting off the ground is Lost for Words, a creative writing project that pairs author Laura Marney with budding writers across the hospitals to create stories together. We are currently talking to the Scottish Book Trust on how to reach more people and involve exciting writers.
Finally, Art Games is a drawing exchange between St John’s and Liberton Hospital. Based upon a surrealist art game that allows a drawing to develop as it goes back and forth between participants, in due course we’ll be working in partnership with the Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop to create a larger scale sculptural project.
We will try and post as regularly as we can so there is something new to look at.
Please feel free to give us any feedback, or ask about participating in future projects. Artlink Hospital Arts Team contacts: firstname.lastname@example.org(normal working week is Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday)email@example.com(normal working week varies depending on projects, currently mostly Wednesday and Thursday).
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