An Interns Firsthand Experience: Communicating & Connecting Through Art

Location : Orange County Hospice

Haileys Photo

At Silverado, we offer many internship and volunteer programs to those who share our calling to enrich the lives of those with memory impairment and chronic illnesses. Hailey Holmes, our MSW hospice intern, shared a special connection with a patient after utilizing art as a way to communicate. Read Hailey's firsthand experience:

"Soon after the training, I began visiting a new patient. She demonstrated an interest in creative activities, frequently showing me her knitting and crocheting projects. One day, I decided to utilize the painting activity that Silverado had taught us. The first several times I asked her if she would like to paint, she said, 'that sounds fun, but not today.' Finally, after asking during several visits, she accepted my offer to facilitate a painting activity.

As she dipped the brushes in different colors, she expressed enjoyment from recalling peaceful and happy memories that took place in her native country of England. She painted a picnic, a fishing pole, and a river where she spent weekends with her family. At the end of our visit, she appeared peaceful and happy. The next week, she painted a beautiful bouquet of wild flowers in a vase. She recalled her love for gardening, stating, 'Spending time in my garden always brought me peace.' As I departed, my patient turned to me and said, 'I never knew I could enjoy life again. Thank you for coming.' I did not know at the time that this would be the last painting she ever made. Two weeks later, my patient passed away.

As a gift, the painting made by my patient was given to my patient’s daughter. As I handed the framed painting wrapped in a tulle bow, her daughter became tearful and stated, 'thank you for giving me a piece of my mom back. I will keep it in my daughter’s room so the legacy that my mom created can live on through generations.' She explained that her mother spent her entire life learning new skills quickly; learning to dance in her seventies, knitting at 75 and painting at 81. I feel that the painting gave her daughter the happiness that my client felt painting it."

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