As a student Occupational Therapist, I am very grateful to have participated in three research sessions, while working as a volunteer at a hospital in Derbyshire.
It was an exciting learning opportunity to link theory with experience, and has prompted my investigation of the OT evidence-base for creative activity. The experience has informed my subsequent reflections about, and evaluation of, creativity-based interventions. It also prompted reflection on the benefits and meaning of my own engagement in creativity.
Through understanding the importance of creativity in art, and gaining a greater appreciation and understanding of its power, I have been able to contrast this with the intentionality of other craft activities. This has informed my own practice during placement at an Age UK daycentre, and in response to teaching at university.
I enjoyed observing patients, staff, family and friends, as together we jointly engaged in the art project. All participants were supported, to each contribute according to their abilities and needs. Roles were blurred and expectation of skills re-evaluated as each engaged in a way appropriate to them, at that time, able to offer contributions to the discussion, or to listen and watch at different stages of the session. Creative activity supported and gave meaning to verbal and non-verbal interactions, without judgement. The artists and researchers facilitating the activity were open to all interpretations and narratives, supporting all members of the group to participate.
An experience that I have subsequently reflected on, was observing the moment when someone’s attention was captured - and the characteristics of the setting and activity that contributed to this. Through supporting participation, in her own way, without judgement or any particular response being anticipated, the project gave opportunity for a different aspect of that person to be observed and appreciated for herself. While perhaps offering a reminder of personhood beyond the role of patient.