For a number of years, artist and Project Ability tutor Karen has worked at Blythswood and Claythorn, two NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde Learning Disability in-patient units. During the COVID-19 lockdown, Karen has used video conferencing along with the incredible support of the unit staff to keep the art workshops going.
Once a week there is a session at Claythorn; 2 patients at a time for 1 hour, each supported by a member of staff. At Blythswood, a small group of patients and 2-3 staff work together on group projects.
During the online sessions, Karen demonstrates to the patients how to do each activity and has samples ready to show them. Theses can see on a big screen in each unit. Packs of resources, templates, samples and instructions for staff are dropped off beforehand. While dropping off materials Karen has a chat with staff to go through the art activity and reviews how the previous class was.
Staff are really positive about the workshops and say they are “vital” for the patients’ morale. They also comment that the patients really look forward to them, and connecting with someone else and the outside world.
“We have all got used to this new way of working, at first it was a bit strange and everyone was a bit self-conscious, but now we all just get on with it without thinking about the camera” – Karen.