Chelsea Canavan, Artist, Helium Arts, with Bronagh Cahill, Kyllie and Ella McCarthy, Jake Hennessy and Bionca Oleszczuk, at the Paediatric Outpatients Clinic in the UHL. Picture Brendan Gleeson
Helium Arts unveiled a brand new mural this week in the nurses’ station of the paediatric outpatients department in UHL
Charity, Helium Arts, unveiled a brand new mural this week in the nurses’ station of the paediatric outpatients department in University Hospital Limerick.
The mural was painted by Limerick artist, Chelsea Canavan much to the delight of families, patients and hospital staff. Chelsea works with Helium Arts in UHL as part of the outpatients programme – ‘Create While You Wait’.
‘Create While You Wait’ supports children and young people, aged 6 – 18 years, managing lifelong health conditions, to access creative activities in outpatient clinics while they wait to see the doctor and nurse. These conditions can require regular visits to hospital outpatient clinic appointments.
Children and families can feel anxious or nervous about attending their hospital appointments. Professional artist, Chelsea Canavan, is helping by designing bespoke creative activity packs, and engaging with outpatients in the waiting room. Reflecting on their experience of Helium Arts in outpatient clinics, through the 2022 Helium Arts Impact Survey, 94 per cent of children reported that they felt happier when going to hospital as a result of Helium Arts. 100 per cent of parents indicated that theirs and their child’s healthcare experience was positively impacted.
Speaking about the mural, Chelsea Canavan explained:
“The mural is colourful and fun and it links with some of the activities we do in the waiting room. For example, the squirrels playing catch with the acorns represent the playfulness of our interactions with the children, the rainbow represents the colour and imagination in the activities we do and the bees buzzing around represent the hive of creativity in the waiting room.
When I meet the children in the waiting room, I can ask them to look out for certain features as they enter the nurses station. When they come back out, they want to know how I knew so much about the mural, and they get a lovely surprise when I tell them I painted it!” Ms Canavan added.
The nurses station is the first stop for the patients after checking in at reception. Chelsea consulted with the nursing team working here throughout the project and between them they included some very practical uses for the mural. For example, the nurses can ask the children to count the birds on the wall or imagine what songs the birds are singing while they get their pre appointment checks done.
Speaking about the mural, Alison McCaffrey, Advanced Nurse Practitioner, Paediatric Diabetes, UHL, said:
“The partnership with Helium Arts has been a tremendous support for children attending our clinics. I work with children with diabetes and engaging young people creatively while they are waiting not only provides a welcome distraction but also a fun, social environment where children can meet others who live with diabetes and may be wearing the same devices and they can feel less isolated in managing their condition. So it is brilliant in terms of peer support.”
“That is apart from the value of the art projects themselves and if the children aren’t taking their artworks or decorations home themselves, we can display them here in the hospital as well. The mural in the outpatients department is a gorgeous, bright piece of art that makes children attending for their appointment feel more welcome,” Ms McCaffrey added.
100 per cent of medical professionals surveyed reported that their experience of delivering healthcare to children with lifelong physical health conditions had been positively impacted by Helium Arts.
90 per cent of parents in outpatients reported that their children are more likely to participate in other art activities in their community as a result of their engagements with Helium Arts in outpatients. In these cases, the artist and healthcare staff can sign-post them to the free Helium Arts community art programme which may take place in their locality. This is a great opportunity for the children to make new friends, grow in confidence, learn new skills and have fun.
Francesca Moloney, from Ennis, County Clare, attending the outpatients clinic with daughters Kylie McCarthy, 8, and Ella McCarthy, 4, said working with the artist “is a great way to keep the children calm and to keep them entertained while they are waiting. It makes a visit to the hospital less scary and more fun.”
Helene Hugel, founder and CEO of Helium Arts added:
“Nurturing creativity through the arts is shown to improve coping skills, wellbeing, stress and anxiety, as well as building confidence, self-worth and a sense of hope. At Helium Arts, we are driven by the idea that healthcare will always be about more than treating the condition – it is about supporting people. And as we have seen throughout the pandemic, the arts play a vital role in supporting people, both their individual and their community wellbeing.”
Helium Arts’ national Creative Health Hub Programme is supported by the Creative Ireland Programme, the Department of Health, the HSE, and the Arts Council. The Creative Health Programme in Limerick also receives funding from the JP McManus Benevolent Fund.