St John’s Community Hospital Creative Programme: Sligo County Council
The St John’s Community Hospital Creative Programme began in September 2012.
The Programme has developed, grown and changed over the years. From the very beginning we have worked closely with all the hospital staff from care staff to the coffee shop lady. The creative workshop structure is always changing, acclimatizing to the needs of the residents and the busy life of a working Community Hospital – Nursing Home.
The project participants are made up from three main groups:
- The under 65’s unit. In this unit residents have a mixture of brain injury and early onset Alzheimers.
- The male and female higher dependency unit.
- The Day Hospital, in this unit residents vary each day of the week
Over the past three years we ran six creative projects, all of which have had a different focus and linked with different areas and groups of residents & staff within the hospital. We started with creative taster sessions consisting of workshops in conversation/storytelling, mixed media and music/dance. These sessions were open to residents and family members. Care & volunteer staff were so energized by the sessions that they asked for some training in order to continue introducing creativity into the day to day activities of the residence.
In 2013 Artist Heidi Wickham worked with eight residents and through one-on-one conversations she developed the imagery for six in-house murals. Residents took part in a number of music & instrument workshops with musician, Steve Wickham. The outcome of these workshops formed part of a larger performance piece for the Bealtaine Festival Sligo 2013.
Two years into the projects we had created an excellent working relationship with the hospital and a strong level of trust had built up. This allowed us to expand the programme. In September 2013 an intergenerational arts project began between the hospital residents and the 4th & 6th class students from the local national school. The project coincided with the opening of a new garden space and events room in the hospital. This new space has become the creative workshop area within the grounds.
In 2015 the residents were involved in the project ‘Made by Hand’, working with two visual artists in the design and construction of a 100 inch textile wall hanging, inspired by the Sligo landscape and colours. The piece hung in the entrance to the hospital and was unveiled as part of the Bealtaine Festival Sligo 2015.
Both the creative programme and the hospital are very keen to develop projects that link to the wider Sligo community. To achieve this we have and continue to link with events and festival that can showcase the residents work and create an open welcoming environment for creativity as we age.