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Lichfield dialysis patients given the chance to join art classes

Kidney patients at Lichfield’s Samuel Johnson Community Hospital are being given the chance to take part in art classes during their dialysis sessions.

The three month initiative is the brainchild of Dr Hugh Rayner, who has secured £1,200 of funding from the British Kidney Patients Association to bring in a professional teacher.

It is hoped the classes will help patients express their thoughts on a range of issues.

Art teacher Karen Bird with patient Sue Fletcher

Art teacher Karen Bird with patient Sue Fletcher

“Dialysis patients are here for 12 hours a week, so we wanted to offer them an opportunity to do something productive with their time,” Dr Rayner explained. “I’d seen first hand a similar project in Australia and felt it was something that would benefit those using our facility in Lichfield.

“It is fair to say that there was some scepticism initially and concern that it would get in the way. This has not been the case.

“It is important that we treat patients with respect and dignity, and programmes like this bring out the person behind the patient.

“The art classes get our patients chatting about things beyond their medical condition and contribute to improving the quality of care that they receive.”

Art teacher Karen Bird, from South Staffordshire College, said: “The classes have proved to be a great success.

“The students here have a wide range of interests so I work with them to choose their own subjects. Some students work from their imagination and make drawings which have a narrative about a memorable event or an idyllic scene.

“Being in the hospital environment does present some challenges and the materials used in the classes have been carefully chosen. Some students are using brightly coloured water soluble pencils. They only have the use of one arm while on dialysis and this may mean they are unable to use their dominant hand.

“I also have to recognise how they are feeling at any given time. We tend to work in little bursts so they can rest when needed and go at their own pace.

“For some it has been an opportunity to re-kindle a love of art and drawing, for others it is a completely new experience. There is no pressure on any student but the plan is to put a book together at the end of term so that we can share our work with others using the hospital.”

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