Prince and Princess of Wales Hospice

Professionals working in healthcare take a creative approach


Kirsty Stansfield, artist at The Prince & Princess of Wales Hospice, was invited to host a workshop on Tracing Autonomy at this year’s Arts and Health Ireland conference.

I was invited by Arts and Health Ireland to give a one-hour workshop, Tracing Autonomy, as part of their annual conference Check In Check Out 2018. Attendees were arts and health practitioners and professionals working in healthcare. It was great to see such a good representation of healthcare professionals at this event, it demonstrated the commitment to arts and health practice as a whole across Ireland and its benefit for patients and the people who take part in these creative activities.

A total of 27 people attended the session in the old library of the Crawford Arts Centre in Cork.

The workshop shared some of the ideas around autonomy at end of life that the art team at The Prince & Princess of Wales Hospice has been exploring with philosopher Dr Ben Colburn from the University of Glasgow. Central to living a good life is the value of autonomy: deciding for yourself what is valuable and living your life in accordance with that decision. The art team has been exploring this idea in relation to the creative approach in the art room.

As part of this workshop participants were invited to make their own mark using drawing materials, sound or voice. This practical activity helped to generate a lively discussion around what people perceived to be the ideal in supporting a person’s autonomy through art making and also what the threats to their autonomy might be.

There was a fantastic breadth of experience in the room and people were generous in sharing their own insights in our discussions. The feedback from people on the day was very encouraging and showed me there was an appetite for thinking about the intricacies of artistic practice in terms of autonomy, both at end of life but also in many other healthcare settings.

The experience of giving this Tracing Autonomy workshop will inform the art team’s continuing work with Ben. It also highlighted to me as an arts and health practitioner the value in sharing practices so that we can learn from each other and ultimately improve what we do with the patients and families we work with at the hospice.

It was great to be able to share the work we are involved in at The Prince & Princess of Wales Hospice with our European counterparts in Ireland. I’d like to thank Arts and Health Ireland and Charlotte Donovan for the invitation to take part.