Renal Unit’s Arts Initiative Reaches Out To Renal Patients

28th September 2023
• L-R: Stephen Greer and Paul Sibley

An Arts Project has been launched at the Renal Unit at the Ulster Hospital to help patients undergoing dialysis treatment, which can be both physically and emotionally demanding.

Dialysis treatments often require patients to remain in one place for an extended period of time. During these hours, it is crucial to provide patients with activities that can uplift their spirits and contribute to their overall sense of well-being. This is where the Renal Arts Project comes into play, aiming to create a more positive and engaging experience for patients attending the Renal unit.

This project fosters a sense of community and togetherness among renal patients. It offers a platform for self-expression and creativity, enabling patients to explore their artistic talents and share their stories. By doing so, the Renal Arts Project contributes to the holistic well-being of renal patients, addressing not only their medical needs but also their emotional and psychological ones.

Patient, Paul Sibley commented saying, “Once I started dialysis, it was mentally difficult especially for the first month. After this I began to realise that I can live with it and this made a massive difference.

“I have always been interested in art activities and with having to get dialysis for 3 days a week at 4 hours a time, starting crafts quite quickly made a real difference. It helped distract me and make the duration go quickly.

“I began to look forward to coming into dialysis because I had protected time away from my family and children where I knew I could work on some drawings.”

The idea behind the Renal Arts Project is to offer renal patients something to distract them during their treatment sessions. Activities such as art therapy, chatting and other creative endeavours have been incorporated into the dialysis environment to provide patients with a much-needed escape from their medical procedures.

What makes the Renal Arts Project truly exceptional is that it is a collaborative effort that wouldn’t have been possible without the dedication and teamwork of multiple parties. The Renal team, Social work team, and most importantly, the renal patients themselves have come together to make this project a reality. Their commitment to improving the patient experience has resulted in a transformative initiative that is touching the lives of countless individuals.

Patient, Stephen Greer stated, “I was a self-employed artist before I took ill, so I had already been doing art and had this passion. If it wasn’t for art, I don’t think I would have been able to cope with going through dialysis.

“Everyone has their own unique way of expressing themselves, so art is for everyone.”

The Renal Arts Project serves as an inspiring example of how healthcare providers, patients, and support teams can work together to enhance the quality of life for those undergoing challenging medical treatments. As this initiative continues to evolve, it offers hope and solace to renal patients, reminding them that they are not alone on their journey toward better health.

Social Worker, Alistair McKenzie highlighted, “It’s great to see everyone coming together and the positive reflection that has followed alongside the project. This patient-led initiative which is important in terms of co-production and community development shows the dialysis patients there are resources that are available to help with their emotional well-being. The Renal Arts Project has rocketed and has made a real difference to our patients’ experiences.”