Published to Other News on May 14, 2019

Creative Therapy at Bolton Hospice is about helping people express themselves in a relaxed way and engaging creativity, it is deeply personal. It is a place for people to be themselves and come to terms with where they are in their journey. It isn’t for everybody and isn’t always appropriate but it is about people having confidence to come and try it. Some people tip toe around the edge and observe before they get involved and we tune in on the Individual and recognise individuality and assess their needs and respond to those.

We have a lot of light moments but also share dark moments too. At the end of it there’s always something to show for it which is a positive thing. Some people do find it difficult to channel creativity - the trick is to find a way which is appropriate for that individual. If they have never used paint they may love it, or they may hate it!

Sometimes it’s just about collecting things, and sometimes it’s about how you view things… it is said that art takes two people, one to create, and one to view.

Patients who have been creative in their lives can have their ability robbed through illness and this is another loss for them, so we work with people to channel their creativity via different methods. All creativity is a form of communication.

We do a great deal of group work where patients will be doing personal work, but sometimes it is so deeply personal they’ll need to be alone. We have to make it a safe and supportive space where people feel confident and empowered to do that. 

I do see outpatients and patients on the inpatient unit in their rooms, and that is usually memory work and things that are really important to leave behind - this is a big part of advance care planning and a way to trigger Difficult conversations about future planning.  

Creativity can be used as a diversion which has its value, but there is so much more that you can do with it including emotional pain relief. To hear someone saying they feel like they have had a huge weight lifted and physically see that relief is massive.

It’s sometimes about seeing people deteriorating, sometimes turning perception round from “I can’t” to “I can do something”. Sometimes patients have had physical losses but if you can still produce something beautiful which someone treasures, it has worth and you still have a worth.

I often work with children that are facing the loss of someone they love. Pre-bereavement work, collecting memories and trying to help them cope with the experience. We do work with parents alongside their children too. I find this so rewarding as it is so important that the first time a child comes into the hospice they have had a good experience; if they had fun with a loved one and can see their loved one is cared for, it is a better place for their loved one to die. I value the opportunities I get to do that for example, for a little girl to make a bracelet for granny to wear and sit and chat about memories with granny is so special. We have to help children to accept that the worst is inevitable but the more we can do to make it a less traumatic experience, the better they will recover afterwards. It is so important for parents to know that theirchild isn’t worried about the place and they are comfortable in the hospice, they can go to the cupboard and find some activities to do and feel at home. 

It is an incredibly humbling place to work.

Read more about our Creative Therapy service here.

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