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Creative Project benefits Dialysis Patients

Creative Project benefits Dialysis Patients



Dialysis patients in Tallaght University Hospital recently enjoyed an arts and health project facilitated by artist in residence Lucia Barnes. The project aimed to highlight the appropriate amount of fluid recommended for patients to drink (150ml) when having a cup of tea or coffee.   Hospital dieticians and  TUH Arts Officer Alison Baker Kerrigan collaborated with Lucia to design a creative project patients could participate in while receiving treatment on site. Lucia invited patients to decorate a cup with their own individual design that they could take home afterwards.

Recalling the significance of her involvement, Lucia noted that it was “wonderful to walk into the new Vartry Renal Unit for the first time on 1st March. Due to COVID-19 restrictions most artists were unable to work in the hospital over the last two years. Strangely enough my last session was the week before World Kidney Day 2020 for which we had events planned! It was quite poignant to return for this event two years later. It was great to be welcomed back by the staff and patients, after working in TUH for over 15 years. I was delighted to see some familiar faces of patients I’ve known for years, and to meet new patients so eager to take part.”

Lucia prepared the cups -  recycled from the hospital’s catering department - for patients use by marking a permanent line on each to denote 150mls, drawing attention to the fluid restrictions that are generally part of the dialysis patient’s dietary regime. The artist then created a number of sample cup designs as suggestions for patients using a series of self-made template strips for the colourful designs to fit perfectly around the cups.  Once the designs were complete, Lucia baked the cups in an oven for 30 minutes to ensure the permanency of the markings, designs and to make them dishwasher proof. 

Over a series of four workshops they yielded a total of 38 cups involving around 40 patients and up to 15 members of staff. According to Lucia all were delighted with the energy, enthusiasm and creativity involved:

“The diversity of designs and statements that patients came up with was amazing. It was a wonderful reminder of just how determined, resilient not to mention humorous our patients can be, despite all they are going through.”

Thanking her fellow artist Olivia Hassett, along with Maria Fortune from the Dietetics Team, and Stephen Doyle in Medical Photography for capturing the images, Lucia added that it had been “extremely encouraging and rewarding to see how easily the workshop slotted back into the clinical environment within the renal unit. It is encouraging and hopeful to be at a point of reconnecting the relationship ties with staff and patients again after the long COVID-19 absence. But most importantly it’s great to be back offering creative activities that are enjoyed so much by patients through the Arts & Health Programme”. 

TUH Arts Officer Ali Baker Kerrigan added that “the arts projects facilitated in the Vartry Renal Unit are kindly funded by Punchestown Kidney Reseach Fund (PKRF). Our thanks to James Nolan as Chair of PKRF whose support is key to maintaining the continuous delivery of the Arts programme for the benefit of our patients.”