4. St Bede’s Palliative Care Unit, Gateshead
At St Bede’s Palliative Care Unit, Room for You has provided a half day session per week on Wednesday mornings in a 10 bedded unit where Room for You can work with both patients and families. Room for You team members Carolyn Thompson and Donna Cheshire liaise closely with healthcare staff regarding which patients will be able to participate. We also work with family members who benefit from participating in an arts activity and/or talking to one of our counsellors as a coping strategy during the long days spent on this unit.
At St Bede’s, there is a dual focus on providing direct support to patients and their families, and also to provide artworks to enhance the environment. To this end, the artist and counsellor gather advice and information from the medical staff about patients who may benefit from some engagement with the arts. They take note of the handover sheets indicating the physical and mental state of each patient and are guided by advice and leads from the medical team. They also listen to and act upon staff requests for specific artworks to enrich the decor of the building.
At the start of each session, Donna and Carolyn set up a creative space in the foyer area, near the visitors’ signing in book. This gives the project visibility, as they are often the first people that visitors see as they arrive and sign in. This frequently leads to conversations about why Room for You is there and what the RFY offer is.
The average weekly number of patients and companions our team engage with in St Bede’s is as follows:
St Bede’s = 12 (9 patients and 3 escorts)
Room for You has been able to engage with approximately 250 patients and their companions in the unit over the period april to oct 2019.
St Bede’s Palliative Care Unit, Gateshead
Our work at St Bede’s follows a slightly different pattern. As many of the patients are too poorly to physically make art, the artist often works with their family, providing a little respite or space to talk whilst engaged in making art, trays of materials can be taken to the patient’s room, or participants can come to work at the art table. Often, we are asked to make art to display in the unit, to bring colour to the walls and enhance the unit’s sense of calm and caring. The Quiet Room, is a small, comfortable space where people can sit to reflect, to talk or to grieve. One wall is now filled with four large appliqué panels that feature seasonal flowers, plants and animals. These are relevant to the treatment of cancer patients, either through symbolic meanings or medicinal purpose. Patients and their families were involved in the creation of the pieces, painting smaller silk pieces that were then appliquéd into the panels.