Prince and Princess of Wales Hospice

A patient case study

“Seeing Dad being able to switch off and relax makes us happy. We can relax when we see him totally involve himself in something and not be in pain, and to be creative rather than thinking about everything else that’s going on.” Family member

Davy is one of our patients who attends art workshops while receiving hospice support through day services.

He had been creative in the past and had at one time applied for art school, but had not made any work for years and came to us initially for a reintroduction to art.

Davy is very serious about his practice and challenges himself through exploring a range of drawing and painting methods. His subjects vary. Some days he concentrates on landscapes, while other days he chooses to explore portraiture, or studies of animal forms. His approach to paint and mark-making has become more accomplished as his experience of painting has grown.

Due to illness Davy is now no longer able to work. He used to be very active, climbing mountains and taking part in endurance sports.

So in the art room Davy is in control and sets himself new challenges with each project. For him each piece is an opportunity to learn something different and during these sessions the art room artists have in-depth discussions with him about his work.

Davy is keen to learn how to improve his technique and openly invites critique. He has built on his existing skills, and when he compares old work to new, he can clearly see the development he is making. This progress gives him a purpose and sense of achievement in his own abilities and he's proud of his work and looks forward to his weekly sessions.

Davy also takes advantage of our regular family workshops, and attends with his two adult daughters. These family workshops for him feel like protected time.

Davy says: “My family try really hard to find the time together, but life's distractions and stresses mean that it very rarely happens. Most importantly time together in the art room brings us together in a positive way.”

Coming to the family art workshops introduced Davy's daughters to the hospice in a gentle way and for Davy this was very important, because he did not want them to feel scared or to worry that he was accessing hospice services.

Davy says: “My girls didn't know what to expect and coming to the art classes helped to settle any fears or misconceptions they had about me coming to the hospice.

"It’s great because for a time we are not focusing on the stresses that seem to dominate our lives, we are focusing on the work we are doing. It's so lovely to be able to share it with the girls and I don’t know if it would ever happen if we didn’t come here.”

Davy's daughters agree.

“Seeing Dad being able to switch off and relax makes us happy. We can relax when we see him totally involve himself in something and not be in pain, and to be creative rather than thinking about everything else that’s going on.”

After some time, Davy's wife has started to attend our carers' drop-in art session. She had never made art before and was nervous, believing that she wasn’t a creative person. During her time with us she has begun to explore drawing techniques and has produced a series of botanical studies using ink and watercolour.

She says: “The art staff are all so relaxed and make it so welcoming to come to the art room. For someone who doesn’t consider themselves an artist, I have thoroughly enjoyed the freedom and choice that the staff give us to try different things.”

There is a sense of pride in what Davy and his family have achieved through attending sessions in The Prince & Princess of Wales Hospice art room, and they are enthusiastic and supportive of one another’s developing art practice.  At home they have sat as a family around the dining room table to paint together and Davy was struck by how differently they all make work.

Davy says: "It is a lovely activity to share as a family and it generates interesting discussions as we talk about the work we are all making."