The School of Nursing and Midwifery at the University of Sheffield have supported the SYDCAE for 9 years now but it was serendipity that brought two nurses to Sheffield Cathedral today. The younger of the two women asked me what the exhibition had to do with nursing, and I felt this was and is a good question. The SYDCAE relies upon the relationships that are fostered between all those who make and contribute artwork – it is a team effort but everyone involved is vital. And nursing at its best is all about positive relationships, based on trust, care, respect and dignity. The two women explained that they had been drawn to look at the exhibition because of the School of Nursing and Midwifery banner on display and because, as it transpired, they were former nurse mentor and mentee – all grown up now, but still firm friends after 30 years and meeting for a coffee.
There were many interesting conversations and positive experiences today. For example, three generations of one family stopped by to look at the lovely work submitted by Rosebank Care home. In conversation, one of Connie’s daughters explained that their mother had helped to make the work alongside other residents, relatives, visitors, and visiting workers – while I had been told previously that Mick also deserved credit for being so patient in putting it together. Connie’s husband shook my hand as he left while the youngest member of the group rewarded me with a high-five.
It was especially pleasing to spend time with Richard Bentley and Bernard Pease – along with members of the team from Woodland View and Sheffield Health and Social Care NHS Foundation Trust. Hannah Godfrey, whose work also appears at SYDCAE, introduced me to these two gentlemen. I was able to show Richard where his painting was displayed and his reaction to seeing it in the Cathedral setting was very moving. Richard, by his own admission, does not consider himself to be an artist. Yet his work is, in my view, as thought-provoking and fitting as any other piece on display. When Richard also realised that his work features in the exhibition brochure he was rightly proud of his achievements, though incredibly humble about it all. He told all of us that he was going to do more and Richard, if you are reading this, I do hope you submit artwork to our 2018 exhibition. Bernard Pease was also pleased to see his work in the exhibition. In our conversation, which was quite wide-ranging, he also appraised me of nature of the Napoleonic era changes made to the fortifications of Cité de Carcassonne in Languedoc, South West France. He was only an amateur historian, he noted. Many thanks, Bernard.
Zoe Brodie, from Alexander Court Care Home, emailed me her reflections on taking part on the exhibition, after I suggested she do this after we spoke on Tuesday. I’ve pasted this below because often alongside nurses and families are other care practitioners who together, as a team, look to offer the best support and care to people affected by dementia. They seem like suitable words to end on:
“Alexander Court Care Home is not a dementia home but our residents often develop memory problems (dementia). I am an activities coordinator and try to make friendships with our residents and get to know them for who they are, not for their disability or illnesses. I spend a lot of time just talking and listening and some residents don’t remember my name despite me reminding them, they just know me as the lady in the orange t-shirt (my uniform) who makes them do activities😊
We started the art project and I got a great response. I talked to relatives of the residents who wanted to be part of it and explained to them that I intended to gather old photographs of the resident’s younger days. I found it very emotional talking to the family members, they talked about times in their life with such happiness and told me of their loved one’s great achievements, at times I had to remind myself that this is someone’s life, not a story from a book or just a general chit chat, I am listening to someone’s life.
I felt like it was a great honour that they wanted to share with me and others these stories. Listening to personal accounts of people who once lived life, like me, but who are now suffering cruel illnesses and as one lady said to me – they are left with only memories to live off. Admittedly, I felt quite selfish thinking; what will happen to me when I am older?
Betty and Pearl are two of our residents who were able to visit the exhibition, again I found it so emotional during the visit to the Cathedral, the look on their faces when they saw our work on display and remembering the work we had put in to create it, it was such a great achievement for them. In that moment, the perseverance, patience, time, care and understanding I had put in was all so worthwhile”
Come and join us tomorrow for: ‘Moments in Time’, 2.30-4pm, Sheffield Anglican Cathedral