Patient Gordon Currie explains why collaboration is key when it comes to working on craft projects in day services at The Prince & Princess of Wales Hospice.
Some time ago I had been given one of these adult colouring books and it unfolded to about 16 feet long. The staff brought out two big tables and everyone could go up with felt pens and fill it in a bit, so you had a group activity that everyone could get involved in.
I have done a couple of abstract paintings in the hospice’s art room, and I was trying to break away from just doing watercolours and try something different. I did an abstract, which worked out much better than I thought it would, it was geometric.
Before I became ill this time, I thought it would be a good group thing to do in day services. We got a blank canvas and protractors, compasses, cups, saucers and plates. Each person came up, chose a shape and drew it on the canvas. Then they carefully wrote their name in their circle or diamond, with some overlapping. We just kept things going until the whole canvas was covered with circles and diamonds and shapes, all overlapping each other.
The next step was for everyone to cut out textured paper and stick it over the shapes. Where a circle overlapped, they cut off the part that overlapped. The point was they all got involved in their little bit, and they had to sit and discuss which part they would colour over and where it would go from there.
I wasn’t here when it developed, I just set it off. It was a great project and the finished article now hangs up on the wall in day services.
The bonus is that people would come up and say: ‘You’ve got to put a shape on here.’ So they would get involved. It was their shape, eventually they would have to come back, cut out another bit and glue it on. They could see their part of it.
To finish we made five little paper boxes and added them to the canvas to make it three-dimensional. If you carefully lift the lid off the boxes, inside there are the names on a little piece of card, tied with ribbon, of the people who took part in the project. It’s a permanent record of a group activity.
That’s the emphasis, it is not Gordon’s canvas, I had the idea and they rolled with it. Because they all sat down and chatted to each other and had a laugh around the table, what’s up on that wall is theirs. If you step back and look at it from across the room, you can’t help but be drawn to it.
That’s really what the ethos in the craft area of day services is: to try and draw people in, particularly when you can make them work on group activities.
We also made origami birds that hang from a mobile in the room, and we made lots of boxes that the ladies took home and put gifts in.
In day services it makes little difference if folks are making jewellery, doing jigsaws or just chatting – it is this mix of activities and low level social interaction that creates an ambience and stuff just happens.
Everyone becomes absorbed in the creative process, unconsciously blanking out their concerns, or at least setting them aside, in exchange for a short period of peace.
It’s people in similar circumstances – and an environment is created in that day care centre.
I became an inpatient for a period of four weeks, during which medical staff at the hospice had to change my medication and look at pain relief.
I’m going home in a few days and I’m quite excited about it, mainly because I feel so comfortable with the work the hospice has done to make everything ready for me at home. People may not realise how far the services of the hospice reach.
Once they have decided your medical needs have been met, they work towards getting you back into your own home where that is possible.
They don’t just get you better in the hospice and put you out the door. The liaison between the GP and outreach programmes is amazing. They visit your house beforehand, to make sure it’s safe and has everything you need to live as normal a life as possible.
That will all be in place by the time I go home. I’m leaving the hospice not feeling worried, there’s no anxiety about the move. I know every step it is going to be handled well.