Prince and Princess of Wales Hospice

Working with young adults in the art room

Adapting our creative approach presents inspiring and exciting opportunities, explains The Prince & Princess of Wales Hospice artist Kirsty Stansfield.

Over the past 18 months the art team has been building a relationship with two young men who are new to the hospice and the services we offer. There has been a lot of preliminary hospice-wide training that the art team have been able to tap into, which has been hugely helpful.

This has helped in terms of raising awareness of the practical, social and emotional issues many of the young people may be dealing with, and also a wider awareness of what is involved for the young people and families around transition from paediatric to adult hospice services.

We are aware that working with people who have complex access and communication needs requires that we adapt our creative approach, and this presents exciting opportunities for us!

Our approach is always person-centred and led by the person we are supporting. How can we creatively work with someone who cannot use their hands or who cannot verbally communicate with us in a way that supports their autonomy as an individual?

This offers us a creative challenge, which we are whole-heartedly embracing with the help of organisations such as Artlink Edinburgh & Lothians, Sense Scotland and Glasgow Disability Alliance.

Our experience working with two young men in particular has been very inspiring and hugely rewarding. Given the access needs of the two young men we need to work one-to-one and our communication needs to be very direct.

“Does this work for you?” or “Let’s try this and let me know if that helps or not, if not we can try something else,” are questions we frequently ask.

We are always observing and checking in with people what works for them or not, but the fact that both the artists and the two young men were discovering things they didn’t know were possible or whether they would work or not, the exchange was very dynamic and very exciting for everyone involved. We were all learning new skills, discovering new ways of making marks and enjoying the process at the same time.

We’re really looking forward to developing this creative focus further and to keep looking for different ways of making art that values and respects each and every mark someone makes, whether that is a mark on a piece of paper or a computer screen, a small gesture or movement, a sound or a spoken or written word.