I have worked at the hospice as an art therapist for the past eight years.
Before I worked at the hospice I studied art, but after receiving my art degree I later trained as a nurse, and worked as a nurse in London.
With my art and nursing qualifications I then continued with my education to become an art psychotherapist, and worked initially in a hospice in Oxford before working for St Elizabeth Hospice.
I work with individuals from the community, which can be adults and children, patients or relatives. I work with inpatients on the ward and day service patients usually on a one-to-one basis.
I also am involved with the larch group, where school children are invited to visit the hospice once a week for a month and take part in group activities with day care patients. At the end of the month the children and patients have a celebration event attended by family members, school staff, hospice employees and volunteers, where they talk about what they have done, presenting any work or even performing to the group.
There is no average day with this job, I can see two or three patients or it can be more, and they could be patients or relatives who have suffered a bereavement, especially children or young adults. Patients or relatives are usually referred to me by a nurse or a member of the emotional wellbeing team, sometimes if the patient has expressed an interest in art therapy.
The person doesn’t have to be good at art, they can come in for a chat or they don’t have to talk at all, it can just be a quiet and neutral space to do something creative and positive. I can work with some people for weeks or it can be just a few sessions, which can be up to an hour each but it can be less.
The best thing about my job is meeting new people and finding out about their lives and stories – you can learn so much from people if you listen.