Dementia nurses from North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust took part in a Q&A session with some children from Houghton CE School, near Carlisle.Unfold the untold, artists, admiral nurses and school children.jpg

The Year 6 children are taking part in an art project - Unfold the Untold - designing a book and resources through puppetry, crafts and art with patients from Beech C and Elm C wards at the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle. Some of the patients have dementia.

Admiral nurses Moira Bray and Meena Sarangapani.jpgAdmiral nurses Moira Bray and Meena Sarangapani travelled to the school to meet the youngsters and answer their questions.

Artists Susie Tate and Ali McCaw – who are also involved in the project – also attended along with puppets The Major and Winnie (the wombat).

Moira has worked for the NHS for 24 years. She explained to the children a bit about her role: “We look after people who come into hospital with a diagnosis of dementia and help them and their families with everything they need. Nurses from other wards often ring us for advice.

“We spend most of the day chatting to patients and their families. It is very interesting to hear the patients’ stories when we talk to them.

“Being a nurse is a privilege and I feel I am very lucky to do it. I get to look after people and make their stay in hospital better. I get to meet some lovely people.”

One pupil asked: “Is it hard working with people with dementia?

Moira said: “It can be but it’s also very rewarding.”

Meena Sarangapani has been a nurse for 18 years – two years as an Admiral nurse.

One pupil asked Meena how people can make life better for those with dementia.

She said: “Chat to them and maybe do a puzzle or some singing and dancing. They like music.”

Meena said she gets a lot of job satisfaction from her role and goes home happy knowing she has been able to help someone.

Moira said: “I enjoy being with people. I am always with somebody.”

Michelle Gate, Year 6 teacher at Houghton CE Primary School, said:

“The session and the art project are great for the children because it gives them a link with the outside world. They see themselves as artists and they love working with the hospital. They feel they are helping to brighten someone’s day. It really is a lovely project to be involved with.”

Unfold The Untold, which has been funded with Arts Council England funding uses the power of creative activities to enhance wellbeing and bring people together from across communities and generations through shared story telling.Susie Tate, Admiral nurse Moira Bray Ali McCaw and Admiral nurse Meena Sarangapani.jpg

Children express their voice through weekly co-creative sessions. Intergenerational conversations are enabled by the artists who as a ‘creative postal service’ between the children and the patients.

An illustrated storybook and resource pack will eventually be produced that teachers can use to work creatively with future students, and ward staff can use to build connections and conversations with their patients.

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