The value of the arts in palliative care settings is a powerful and successful way of addressing the practical, psychological, social and spiritual issues faced by palliative care patients. Creative keepsakes was set up by the creative arts team to give patients and their families facilitated, uninterrupted space to work together to make memorable and meaningful pieces of art.
Families can be what the patient want them to be. The feedback has expressed the value of having protected time together, with one patient saying, ‘Me, my wife and son have not laughed so much for a long time.’ We continue to offer Creative Keepsakes sessions to the family if the patient is unable to attend or dies during the six week course. This then becomes part of the bereavement work. We have now linked with the bereavement service within our hospice and offer Creative Keepsakes as an alternative way of supporting bereaved families and individuals even if we have not had any contact with the patient.
Although patients can use a variety of mediums, working with clay is the most popular. In particular, families can decorate a slip cast vase with portraits or names of family members and pets, meaningful quotes, family jokes and memories, holidays and hobbies etc. The conversations that happen during the process can be both moving and comforting. Families can use the sessions as an opportunity to talk about what is happening or use it as time off from worry and simply enjoy special time together making a positive memory for later.
In conclusion, we are presently evaluating the Creative Keepsakes service in order to further understand the needs of patients and their families and how Creative Arts can help those both pre and post bereavement.
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