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Art Brightening up Palliative Care Rooms

Estelle Chappel and Julianne O'Connor

Visual art is a powerful medium for palliative care patients and their families who are going through an extremely difficult time in their lives. This is why Palliative Care Art Therapist, Estelle Chapple is thrilled to welcome over 60 new art pieces to The Queen Elizabeth Hospital (TQEH) to create the hospital’s first Palliative Care Art Library.

Transported from the old Royal Adelaide Hospital, thanks to the Centre for Creative Health (CCH), patients staying in the palliative care ward at TQEH now have the opportunity to choose an art piece they would like displayed in their room.

“We are so grateful to be able to access these wonderful artworks from the old RAH which will offer the patients on the ward an opportunity to personalise their room as well as empowering them with choice and decision making in this process. The wonderful volunteers at TQEH Central Adelaide Palliative Care Service are creating an artwork catalogue so once patients are admitted to the Palliative Care ward at TQEH they will be able to search through this catalogue and select which artwork they would prefer displayed in their room,” Estelle explained.

“Patients will be able to rotate the art in their room as they please. Our patients often spend many days and weeks on the ward as they access specialist care. As well as making the room more aesthetically pleasing to them personally, it will also offer an opportunity for staff and visitors to consider an aspect of the patient that they may not know or have considered beyond their medical illness. This results in a positive outcome for the patient and staff as it offers insight into the patients personality and interests.”

Based at the TQEH on Wednesdays and Thursdays, Estelle works alongside patients and their families in the TQEH Palliative Care Unit, offering either individual or group sessions with the aim of encouraging self-expression and emotional healing.

“Art making is an important therapeutic resource for many patients. It helps them to express their inner world when they cannot find the words to do so.  It allows individual expression of thoughts and beliefs which can then be further explored to gain peace or lessen anxiety,” Estelle said.

“It is important to always respect our patient’s individuality and choice whenever possible. It is my belief that the Art Library will offer them another way to do this even when they become physically or cognitively unable to do what they once perhaps could. Supporting our patients to access specific artworks of their preference for contemplation is very important and powerful. It’s vital these patients have the opportunity to connect with art in a different way too.”

Estelle’s art therapy session plays a crucial role at TQEH’s Palliative Care unit, with many patients travelling from home to partake in sessions. Estelle also works with families of patients in palliative care and is active in working with the broader community with grief and bereavement.

With your ongoing support, CCH is dedicated to ensuring art continues to play an integral role in supporting not only palliative care patients but their families going through the most difficult time of their lives.

“I’m so grateful to CCH for providing us with these artworks and also the Prospect Men’s Shed for supporting the continued care of the Art Library. I can see the benefit of expanding the use of these art works throughout the corridors of TQEH for all of our patients for many years to come.”

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