case study: singing through change

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 was very 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.

Read the full case study here.

A dash of colour

The Psychological Therapies Service at St John’s approached us last year asking if there was anything we could do to brighten up the waiting area and public corridors of their department. After a visit to the department and meeting with the team we invited artist Vanessa Lawrence to deliver a series of watercolour workshops for service users and staff to create their own works to brighten up the space.

The department staff team and participants have been brilliant. We have been really impressed and excited by the level of creativity and skill they brought to the workshops. Once the workshops and works were complete we had an afternoon with participants and staff to select works they would like to see framed and hung in the department. In total we selected 51 different sized watercolours to liven up these important patient areas.

“What a fantastic opportunity for patients and staff. The sessions that I have been involved with have felt very therapeutic and the artwork produced has been incredible. It has been really lovely to interact with patients in a different way and see the joy that taking part in such a course has created for them. I can’t wait to see the pieces framed and up in the waiting area!”  Sinead Murray, Clinical Associate in Applied Psychology

Making Changes

Laura Key, the clinical Associate in the Applied Psychology unit at St John’s got in touch with us asking if Artlink could help brighten up the waiting areas in their department. We had a look at the spaces and chatted to Laura and her colleagues to find out what they were looking for. Through conversation we arrived at the idea that artist Vanessa Lawrence could work with patients and staff to produce art works to brighten the space. There is something special about artworks having a direct association with staff and patients who are either cared for, or work in the unit. We look forward to the artworks emerging over the next months!

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Reading Friends

SIMON_1_BLOGOver 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