In a category where each finalist would have made a deserving winner, Demelza Hospice Care for Children claimed the prize for incorporating creative arts into the very bones of its service delivery. The hospice was praised for its authenticity, passion and willingness to share its methods and learning outcomes with other sector organisations.
At Demelza, our driving factors have always been, and will always be, the crucial importance in managing quality of life in babies, children and young people with serious or terminal conditions, and those who love them. We use creative arts to embrace the fun, the sad, the silly and the precious, unforgettable moments of family life, intertwining the arts amongst regular care service provision in every way possible.
Worry and uncertainty contribute immensely to parental stress in children’s palliative care. Besides not knowing with any certainty what will happen to their child, families have to deal with a huge lack of intimacy when resident in a medical setting, having very few private moments with their child. Creative arts offer a private space to reflect and to simply ‘be with’ their child to play, sing, dance, make art and tell stories. Families can bond through the arts because they offer a shared, playful experience which, in stark contrast to their everyday life, is not about the next medical procedure.
We spend time together with families to set aside the medical procedures and worries, and just play, relax and create positive memories. Creative arts therapies can also provide an emotional release and support children, young people and their families undergoing extreme stress and trauma, allowing them to express feelings in a safe way.
To assist in countering some of the increased anxiety in young people around surgeries and hospital admissions, especially during a pandemic, we have been able to provide virtual creative arts therapy sessions for young people during hospital stays. Music Therapists have joined families virtually at the bedside of children in intensive care units to play calming music. Art Therapists have also joined young people as they nervously await major surgery, reducing anxiety pre- and post-op.
For more formalised creative arts therapies, families can self-refer for therapeutic support via our website, a dedicated email and our Family Support Helpline which runs Monday to Friday, 10.00am to 4.00pm. We receive referrals from hospitals, Social Workers and schools – essentially, anybody who recognises an unmet need.