I’m one of three Arts and Activity Co-ordinators working at London Road Community Hospital, spending time with patients in our rehabilitation wards for older people.
I trained for this role following a career as a mental health nurse, returning to university to get a first class honours degree in Dance and Movement and Healing Arts. I worked as a community dance artist for seven years, working with older people with dementia and limited mobility.
I started working at LRCH in 2014 as part of a project to deliver dance and movement workshops for patients in groups or at the bedside. The Arts Co-ordinator role was born from this.
The best thing about my job is witnessing the impact which our creative sessions have on patients, visitors and staff. Tired, frail bodies become animated; people exercise without realising, and chat with other patients. It gives them some time out the opportunity to spend time with other people, and have some fun. Movement brings people to life and helps them live in the moment. It stimulates body and mind and gives our patients a real sense of achievement.
We do a lot of other sessions, too, with music and art. We have Movement Memory Boxes, which are made to recreate a certain era. These are a brilliant way to get patients talking and reminiscing.
I remember a relative telling me how absorbed and happy her father had been when he took part in a painting session – that was great to hear.
Arts-based rehabilitation is really growing. There’s a wealth of research supporting the benefits for recovery and helping patients retain a sense of self. We work with students from the University of Derby, who are on placement for their Creative Expressive Therapy courses, and it’s great to be able to help them develop their skills in this important area. I want to see the arts and medicine working together much more to promote holistic healthcare.