A "Connolly" of Culture

A "Connolly" of Culture

Sinéad Woods

“We pride ourselves in the culture we’ve created”

They say that “culture is hard to see, hear or touch” but it seems that after a recent visit to Connolly hospital in Blanchardstown that there might just be an exception to that “rule”. On our visit we had the great pleasure of meeting staff members Michael Roban and Theresa King who showed us that the staff at Connolly hospital have created a culture that actually can be seen, heard and touched.

 “Staff training & development (regardless of age), senior management support, commitment to the organisation, collaboration with other services (e.g. National ambulance service) and pride in their work” – these are just some of the ways Mick Roban and Theresa King think Staff Engagement has become a way of (working) life at Connolly Hospital in Blanchardstown. Engagement type initiatives are plentiful in the hospital with sewing, yoga classes available to staff. Mick explains that the hospital is “OUR hospital”, an attitude clearly shared by his Connolly colleagues given the high retention levels of staff.

The story of the Women from the Laundries

Image 1: The Storyteller, Mick Roban telling Theresa, Eileen and Vera the story behind this art Work about women transferred from Laundries to be domestic staff when Connolly Hospital first opened.  

But it wasn’t the levels of staff retention that put Connolly on our Staff Engagement radar – it was their involvement in the Arts. We were going to Connolly to meet Mick Roban to discuss his theatre group who “mix comedy with seriousness” to tell staff and patient stories through the medians of film and plays, but our agenda quickly changed to a “tour and tales” visit as we explored the hospital with a storyteller and an artist.

Staff at Connolly hospital use the Arts, in all its forms, to engage their staff and create what can only be described as a colourful and inspirational environment for staff to care for patients and service-users. Works of art line the corridor walls with pieces inspired by the hospital, its story and its people (both staff and service-users). We were impressed to learn that the artists behind many of the pieces are HSE Staff. Theresa King is one such person – medical scientist by day, painter by night. One of Theresa’s paintings depicts a regular night-shift for her in the lab and looking out into the darkness with the only light coming from the operating theatres. She explained that “if the lights are on over there, we are going to be busy over here”. Theresa was excited to share a project currently in the works to collect and create a collage with the letters families and patients send to the staff thanking them for the care and support they gave to loved ones during their time in Connolly.

The Artist and her Artwork

Image 2: Theresa King, a medical scientist at Connolly Hospital stands in front of 2 pieces of art she created and donated to Connolly Hospital.

Connolly hospital staff credits the Arts for having such an engaged health workforce. Just look at what a splash of colour and a dash of creativity can do for a hospital environment! Theresa believes that the potential to engage staff through the Arts is relatively untapped and should be considered in other health service settings.

Rooks at Dawn Painting

Image 3:“Rooks in Flight” by Valerie Bell, Plaster Nurse in Connolly Hospital. The image depicts the thousands of rooks that fill the skies of Connolly Hospital at dawn and dusk. The artist explains that “for those covering the night shift the sight of rooks at dawn brings a swell of hope that the shift is nearly over!”

Many of the initiatives that have been outlined in this blog have been made possible because of the registered Connolly Charity. All funds raised by the Charity are channel back into the hospital with Mick playing a huge part in its success. The art works lining the halls of Connolly Hospital are all by artists from Connolly Art Collective and are on permanent loan to the Hospital. It is the mission of Connolly Art Collective is to bring the outside community into the hospital by inviting exhibitions by local artists and groups. A special thank you to Professor Tom Walsh and Blanchardstown Hospital Society who kindly donated the funds for the hanging system for the paintings.

We would like to thank everyone in Connolly Hospital for the lovely visit (special mention to Mick, Theresa, Noel, Pat & Marie) and to congratulate them on all their hard-work and dedication to making Connolly Hospital, Blanchardstown a great place to work!