Society for Arts in Healthcare Conference

So it wasn't all dry research at the conference, we had fun too!. There were some amazing presentations and keynotes on everything from healing architecture to managing the "silo's" in health care, role delineation and creation of true interdisciplinary approaches. It seems that world wide we are still struggling with the issues around silos of disciplines, whether they be health or arts disciplines. In my view, we just need to get over ourselves and start working together for the good of our doesn't matter if it's the doctor, nurse, music therapist or artist in residence that the patient chooses to talk to, so long as all our patients have an opportunity to talk to SOMEBODY on the team and have their fears and concerns addressed. I always thought that was what interdisciplinary care was all about.......looking after the WHOLE person, and working together as a team, supporting each other...........but maybe that's just me being niave? I hope not!

On a different note, I have met some wonderful people over the past few days. People from a range of backgrounds doing wonderful, innovative things to improve the lives of their patients. Programs incorporating residential artists working in dementia units, arts programs in paediatrics, creating healing spaces........buildings that actually encourage health and relaxation, use of gardening programs, the arts in psychiatry, spirituality and the arts, poetry and storytelling. WOW, it has really been exhillirating! There was so much wonderful stuff, but I must say, the process of creating my own mask (picture attached) was fantastic, however it left me with a could I get it home (as plaster is just a little delicate), so I wasa talking to a lovely girl who worked at the hotel who did voluntary art support in her daughters school, so I gave her my mask and so I'll leave a little of myself in Buffalo!
Before I sign off I must add that I did two amazing workshops, one on storytelling with Fran Yardley which for me (with my counselling hat on) challenged some of the focused story interventions that have been past practice and gave me an insight into not only the capacity of us to change the impact of our personal stories but the facts attached to them, and that was really liberating. I also did a marvellous workshop with Lisa Horlien from Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Centre, that involved a guided meditation followed by a practical art expression exercise. Given that there were about thirty people in the workshop, once the meditation was complete and people began to work on their art pieces, you could hear a pin drop! Noone spoke for the remaining hour plus of the workshop as they were all so focused on representing their meditative experience thru their art. I must say I was oblivious to what was going on around me.......a truly cathartic experience!
The conference finished with a lunch and concert. A classical performance by Len Horovitz followed by an amazing band called Babik who played sort of gypsy swing music. Half way through the set, the guitarist and vocalist (Stuart Fuchs) pulled out a didge, and I must say my hackles went up a little (never been real keen on non Aboriginal men playing the didge, especially if they don't "get" the sacred nature of the experience for all)..........but I must say, my apprehension was soon soothed as Stuart performed a wonderful piece and was extremely respectful of the process. Even though I'd only been away from home for a week and a bit I actually got a bit teary!!! It drew me back still is the "wide brown land for me". Stuart hopes to visit Australia in the near future, so I'd love to hook him up with my friend Jeremy Donovan so he can get a real feel for the Aboriginal culture. But that's another long story, for now I'll sign off. Tomorrow I'm off to North Carolina.

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