Location: St Michael's Hospice, Hereford

I have never seen some of the patients so involved and so happy.

About the Project

Art in palliative care can be a powerful way of addressing and communicating about the issues faced by patients and their loved ones. St Michael’s Hospice, Hereford, provides end of life care to help people affected by terminal illnesses live life to the fullest. However, a recent expansion of the hospice had resulted in many blank walls. Paintings in Hospitals is well aware of the impact care environments have on the way people think and feel. Art has a key role in supporting both patient and staff wellbeing. Paintings in Hospitals worked with St Michael’s, the D’Oyly Carte Charitable Trust, and Herefordshire’s a Great Place to bring art and creativity to the heart of the hospice.

Sticks and Stories workshop at St Michaels Hospice. A Paintings in Hospitals creative activity based on Jill Rocks The Story Stick.

The Activities

Our project would involve inpatients, outpatients, staff, and carers in the selection and curation of new artwork displays at St Michael’s Hospice. It would also provide everyone with the opportunity to learn and express themselves creatively in practical workshops. Resulting from early discussions with care staff, the starting theme was ‘the rural landscape of Hereford’. Paintings in Hospitals Loans Coordinator, Dominic Harbour, developed and delivered the activities. To involve as many patients and care staff as possible in the decision-making process, the activities took the form of:

  • Online and paper selection activities and surveys about emotions and art preferences
  • A display area of longlisted artworks to choose from - with a voting point for visitors
  • Guided discussion workshops about the longlisted artworks and art concepts, including the symbolism of trees and the differences between figurative and abstract artworks
  • A creative artmaking workshop inspired by ‘The Story Stick’ by Jill Rock RA.

Sticks and Stories workshop at St Michaels Hospice. A Paintings in Hospitals creative activity based on Jill Rocks The Story Stick.

As well as facilitating the selection of artworks for the hospice, these activities were also designed to:

  • Help patients and staff with self-expression, personal identity and communication
  • Help stimulate confidence in participants and facilitate open and honest discussion
  • Aid in memory and reminiscence
  • Improve motor skills and hand-eye coordination.

122 people participated in our artwork selection and creative workshops at St Michael’s Hospice.

Julian Trevelyan, Canal Holidays, 1975. Part of the Paintings in Hospitals collection now on display at St Michael’s Hospice.

Julian Trevelyan, Canal Holidays, 1975. Part of the Paintings in Hospitals collection now on display at St Michael’s Hospice.

Seeing how the sticks have turned out is beautiful. Everybody has made theirs differently. They show how different we all are. They are really beautiful.

Impact

Patients, volunteers and staff were highly engaged in the discussion workshops. They were guided through collaborative, honest and rewarding chats about types of art in the hospice environment. The creative workshop was an enthusiastic, joyous and colourful session. One member of care staff said: “A really successful session, I have never seen some of the patients so involved and so happy”. Participating patients and staff were engaged in creating artworks, talking about art, and discussing the artwork selection. Many patients used the opportunity to reminisce about past experiences.

Julian Trevelyan, Canal Holidays, 1975. Part of the Paintings in Hospitals collection now on display at St Michael’s Hospice.

Julian Trevelyan, Canal Holidays, 1975. On display at St Michael’s Hospice.

I really enjoyed being involved. They are all such beautiful paintings and I wish we could have them all.

Next Steps

The final selection of 26 artworks that would make the biggest impact on patient and staff wellbeing went on display at St Michael’s Hospice for the next two years. Options for more art engagement activities, including further artmaking workshops inspired by the final selection, are available to ensure continued interaction and the making of meaningful connections with the new art on display.

Find out how you can benefit from working with Paintings in Hospitals...