Palliative care aims to improve quality of life and help people live as actively as possible until death. Within the healthcare system, we tend to focus more on quality of life in terms of physical well-being. And yet, being human, most of us desire more than just physical well-being. Being connected to our past, present and future matters.

Our relationships matter. Our spiritual, emotional and transcendent dimensions matter. A sense of purpose matters. These are just some of the areas that need attention if we are ‘to live as actively as possible’ until we die.

Attention to these areas is complex and sometimes at odds with modern medicine. Integrating arts into healthcare is a way of nourishing and attending to all dimensions of personhood.

So, it was with both great hope and excitement that we embarked on this partnership with Flutter Lyon, The Groundswell Project, patients, families and staff. It has certainly been worth any perceived risks!

This project has been an amazing experience for our palliative care ward.

Through their involvement in the creative process, patients are connected to (sometimes re-connected to) their past and present and through the legacy of a beautiful artwork and recording they are connected to the future.

For some patients, it has given them a voice to the unspeakable. Preliminary evaluation has shown significant improvement in patients’ mood, wellbeing, pain, appetite and sleep following the session.

For staff, the sheer beauty of these artworks being created in our ‘sterile’ work environment has been a wondrous experience. It has been a great joy to be able to facilitate and offer this gift and experience to patients and their families.

The excitement of watching the artwork unfold and take shape and being able to present the final beautifully framed piece to the patient has enriched all of us. It has also allowed us to glimpse into the rich and valuable lives of those we care for and see in them more than their physical frame and symptoms.

Most importantly, this project has helped place humanity where it belongs - right at the heart of our ward and healthcare.

I would like to thank all those who have made this possible including the GM and Executive of our hospital, The Groundswell Project team, all our generous donors and all our staff. An enormous thank you is owed to Flutter Lyon, who adds meaning to the lives of everyone she connects with. The biggest thank you goes to the people we are caring for, who allowed us to go on this journey with them.

- Dr. Jennifer Wiltshire