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Artist in residence at Daisy Hill Hospital!

13th December 2023

Photo of Lead nurse for Nephrology, Fiona Owens and Arts Care, artist in residence Caroline Shimmons with patient Ronnie.

Daisy Hill’s renal patients have been developing their artistic skills with support from the Trust’s ‘Artists in Residence’ programme.

The Trustwide renal service treats patients with kidney disease from Armagh, Dungannon, Craigavon, Banbridge, Newry, Mourne and some border areas of the Republic of Ireland.

They have been ranked top in the UK Renal Registry and amongst the best in the UK for patient experience and quality of care.  Around 90 people attend the renal unit for dialysis, a lifesaving treatment for those living with kidney failure

The Southern Trust and the Department of Health jointly fund Arts Care to provide arts for health programmes delivered through their Artists in Residence, to enhance the experience of patients and service users. Arts Care is an arts, health and wellbeing charity which delivers a range of innovative projects into health, social and community care services.

Artist in resident, Caroline Shimmons is currently running an eight week programme in the renal unit. Caroline specialises in textiles and has been sharing her skills including weaving, sewing and drawing, with patients. She has a keen interest in art therapy and community development and has been encouraging creativity, for example through sketching, creating memory boards of loved ones and making Christmas cards.

Lead nurse for Nephrology, Fiona Owens explains: “We are always looking for ways to develop and improve our services, to ensure the best outcomes and overall quality of life for our patients.

“With patients attending the unit three times a week for dialysis, we have a very home from home atmosphere in the unit and great relationships between staff and patients. The introduction of the art project has been a lovely therapeutic addition to our service. As, during treatment each patient is attached to a dialysis machine, Caroline has worked with everyone individually to see what they would like and are able to do. It has been a really relaxing past-time for our patients, creating a sense of activity around the unit, allowing them to try new skills and having a project to work on during their treatment.”

For the past seven years, Ronnie has been attending the renal unit for four hours, three days a week for dialysis treatment. Ronnie has really been enjoying the art sessions each Wednesday, creating some lovely pieces that are now on display on the unit including a textile landscape of the mountains near his home. He says: “I had never really tried anything artistic before but am really enjoying doing something different. I enjoy the craic with Caroline, as someone new to talk to and it’s great to have something to do while I am here and a distraction away from thinking about my treatment all the time.”

In the new year, Caroline will be taking up residence in the Stroke and Rehab ward for her next project at Daisy Hill.