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“Helping our long-stay patients to forget their illness for a while is such a privilege.”

07 Jun 2023

Our site supervisor, Dom, shares how a personal art project brought joy and escapism for our most vulnerable patients.

Anita and Dom stand by the spin artwork created on International Nurses Day.

Art has long provided a channel for self-expression and relief from the demands of daily life. This is the case for our site supervisor Dom, who spends his free time outside of work transforming materials destined for the rubbish bin into works of art.

“I realised that on my days off I really liked making artwork and so I built an art studio in my dad’s back garden,” said Dom.

In the studio, Dom repurposed scrap materials to create a variety of artworks, including old records with spin art designs. 

Spin art is a method of painting whereby paint is daubed onto a wooden tablet and then spun at speed. The paint forms abstract and colourful patterns and each “spin artwork” is totally unique to the creator. To achieve the intricate patterns, Dom handmade a spin box machine. 

Spin art created by Dom on a repurposed record.

“I made a few pieces of spin art for the consulting and administration rooms at The London Clinic, but I wanted to see if there was a way we could involve our patients,” said Dom. 

Dom knew the spin art technique was simple to do, and thought that anyone who had the strength to lift their hand would be able to participate.

“Some of our chronically sick patients stay with us longer than they’d really like to. Understandably, they just want to get home and be with their loved ones. I wanted to try and give them an escape from their treatment, and give them some form of independence back in their life,” said Dom. 

A chance encounter while fixing some shelves in the hospital resulted in a meeting with Anita Kolandaisamy, a clinical nurse specialist for palliative care. Dom suggested bringing spin art to her ward, where some of the hospital’s most frail and long-term patients were located.

“Palliative care is provided to patients who have been given a prognosis of one year or less. We try to enrich their time with beautiful memories,” said Anita.

“Our palliative care patients come from all over the world. Some can feel isolated and lonely if they’re away from their family. When Dom approached me with the idea, I could see straight away that the spin art would provide them with a calming distraction,” said Anita. 

Once the relevant safety checks had been done, Dom got to work to make the spin art machine smaller and add wheels, so that it could be easily transported around the hospital.

The spin art programme was an instant success with patients. As well as providing them with a mental escape from treatment and an extended stay in hospital, it allows them to make something memorable to gift to their loved ones at home.

“It brought happiness and laughter,” said one patient.

“The session gave me hope. But most importantly it has provided my children a sense of security, knowing mum is cared for in a fun place,” said another.

What started as a personal passion project for Dom has now become a source of joy for both patients and staff alike, with colleagues from across the hospital coming together to create a collage of spin art pieces for International Nurses Day in 2022. The artwork is now proudly on display at our Duchess of Devonshire Wing café.

The spin artwork on display at our Duchess of Devonshire Wing.

For Dom, who previously had limited interactions with our patients, the time he now spends with palliative care patients quickly became the most rewarding aspect of his work.

“I might have a bad day at work. One of my tools has gone missing or something isn’t going the way I wanted it to go. But after spending time with some of our most vulnerable patients, I come away with a greater perspective on what really matters. For me, that’s my health. It’s a real privilege to spend time with them,” said Dom. 

Find out more about the little extras that are provided for patients at The London Clinic.