Recite Me

Centenary of Caring virtual exhibition opens to public

Centenary of Caring virtual exhibition opens to public

Art exhibition

New exhibition explores impact of pandemic on mental health and wellbeing of health and social care staff 

The impact of the pandemic on public mental health and on NHS health and social care staff working in the community is explored in a new digital exhibition called A Centenary of Caring which opens today:

The virtual, interactive exhibition, which has been created to celebrate the centenary year of nursing and midwifery becoming a registered profession (2020), is a collaboration between university students and health care workers from the Norfolk and Waveney Health and Care Partnership.

Students from Norwich University of the Arts and the University of East Anglia’s School of Health Sciences held a series of remote meetings with health and care staff to discuss what they were experiencing day-to-day in the community and their emotional response to the pandemic. With input from NUA and UEA academics, the discussions led to the creation of works of art in different forms: from video and photography, to painting to poetry and textiles.

Emma Wakelin, Head of Workforce Transformation at Norfolk and Waveney Health and Care Partnership, said:  “The health and wellbeing of our workforce is a key priority for the Norfolk and Waveney Health and Care Partnership and one of the four objectives in our #WeCareTogether People Plan. Focussing on good health and wellbeing has never been more important than now for our people who have all experienced very different ways of working and personal challenges since the start of the pandemic.

“The opportunity to collaborate with both our health care professionals and local art students to share experiences and gain insights into the impact of the pandemic has been incredible. I have personally been humbled by the honesty, integrity and passion of experience shown through the finished pieces of art. Taking the time to visit a virtual gallery allowed me some time for personal reflection and again be thankful for the amazing NHS, Social Care, and wider communities we have in Norfolk and Waveney.

“We look forward to building on the exhibition with UEA and NUA over the coming months with more art work and expression as a living history of the pandemic.”

Carl Rowe, Associate Professor and Course Leader in Fine Art at NUA, said: “What we originally set out to achieve was purposeful, creative, cathartic dialogue and something quite simple in terms of a physical outcome. We didn’t expect art from everyone, because not everyone involved is an artist. But the results are astounding, ranging from performance, film, poetry, infographics, portraiture, drawing, prose, photography and textiles. All of the resulting artworks reveal an insight into the ravages of the Covid-19 pandemic. To that end, we can say with confidence that art and creative thinking has the power to make at least some sense of the profoundly incomprehensible.”

Julie-Anne Stevens, Specialist Children’s Community Learning Disability Nurse for the Starfish Learning Disability Team at NCH&C took part in the project and created two placards entitled “WHAT/Covid terms 2, 2021”.

Julie-Anne said: “I found being able to step away from work to talk with the professor and the art student really helpful to process what has and is happening. My creative piece came about after we spent time explaining our work and the impact of Covid. It soon became evident that the big issue had been communication. How we engage and communicate with people safely and effectively so that people understand us and are then able to keep themselves and the rest of their family safe.

“I have never done anything like this before, but I believe that when you get the opportunity to dance you should dance! And if I didn’t like it I could stop or just never do it again. I was hesitant to take part because I am not an artist. I am so, so pleased that I did.

“Since the pandemic work has been very, very different for us, as it has been for many. I work with children and their families. My IT skills have had to improve and things that I would worry about doing, I have had to do. It has been anxiety provoking in so many ways. I have had to learn new skills and adapt my working practice. Unless it is essential, I see children online. We have had to find other ways of communicating that promote safe computer access because for some children we won’t have met them before the pandemic and so for them we are strangers.  For some children I think they have engaged better whilst others have found this difficult. My table is strewn with puppets, Lego, cuddly toys of Minecraft characters as well as paper and pens.”

“I’m very proud of the team that I work with. Colleagues, finding that some families struggled to understand Covid and the rules we have to live by, set up a weekly newsletter for families to almost interpret some of the information that was being given as well as suggestions of how to manage situations eg use of the daisy lanyard. The mental health of the children as well as their parents and carers became even more important. As did the juggling of our work with the needs of our own families. Working online means that our client group are now in our homes and this needed careful managing. Being able to differentiate between home and work and finding another “drive home” to unwind and process the day in. All major changes.

“I hope people find it engaging and a little bit of fun. I would definitely do it again.”