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Grounds

for Change
the
morningside
Autumn 2014
Interviews by:
Kirsten Lloyd
Contributors to this issue:
Karina Davies
Sean Harper
Moria MacFarlane
Albert Nicholson
Alison Robertson
Sarah Stevenson
Morningside Mirror was a magazine
published by patients and staf at the
Royal Edinburgh Hospital between the
years 1845 and 1974.
If you would like to fnd out about this
and other related projects, call
Anne or Trevor on
0131 537 6127
or if you are in the hospital
ext. 46127,
email
glasshouses@artlinkedinburgh.co.uk
or just drop by the Glasshouses.
Grounds
for Change
Welcome to the Morningside Mirror
This edition is all about change, but
perhaps not quite in the way youd
expect. Youll no doubt be aware that
the Royal Edinburgh Hospital (REH) is
undergoing a major transformation; a
brand new campus will emerge on the
existing site in the next few years and
the ground works are already underway.
Not all the changes will be permanent,
but its clear that we need to think about
how we can ofset their impact on the
hospitals community during the period
of change. To get an idea of what is
important to you we asked two questions.
We asked patients, Was there a place,
a person, or an experience within
the hospital that you felt was positive,
or which helped you on your road to
recovery?, and we asked staf What is
your favourite part of the hospital?
At a recent meeting, members of the
Patients Council proposed that we focus
primarily on patients perspectives. So
for this edition our pages are largely
flled with patients experiences. Weve
also included a few responses from staf
as the changes impact everyone within
the REH.
And fnally, we want to tell you a story
about a strange coincidence that
happened during the production of
this edition, a story that connects
generations of the same family through
the fascinating history of this hospital.
We hope you enjoy your read.
2 | The Morningside Mirror | Autumn 2014
Karina Davies:
Making
artworks
For one and a half hours a week Karina
comes to the Glasshouses and draws.
I popped over when I was staying here
earlier in the year just to fnd out what
it was all about and Ive gone on from
there. The art classes have really been
my saving grace. Im a full time carer
and theyve given me a breathing space,
a chance to just focus on myself. The
place itself is very calming and I come
here for a bit of serenity.
Though Karina only took up art in the
Spring of this year she clearly has a
genuine talent and has already exhibited
her work in the Artlink corridor. Each
week I gather fowers from the garden
at the Glasshouses, get out my pastels,
make some cofee and get going on a
new piece. I love being involved, I love the
colours, and I love meeting new people.
Its a couple of hours that I can get lost
in my work and yes, its fair to say that
my creative passions have been well and
truly ignited.
Autumn 2014 | The Morningside Mirror | 3
Alison Robertson:
Standing
underneath
the plum tree
Just next to the Glasshouses, stands a
group of apple trees. Alison Robertson
didnt know it at the time but in amongst
them is a plum tree. I was working
away as usual on The Horticulture
Project or the Horti Project as we used
to call it which was run by Ruth from
Occupational Therapy, when we heard
someone say that the plums were ready
to be picked. We didnt even know the
tree was there but when we all headed
outside into the sunshine we saw that it
was absolutely laden with fruit. Shaking
the branches, reaching up as high as
they could and even inventing new tools,
Alison remembers the fun they all had
trying to harvest the plums. After their
collaborative eforts, everyone had a
chance to enjoy the results. It was one
of those perfect days, she says, nature
provided and there was enough for
everyone, even the birds and rabbits got
their share of the fallen fruits lying on
the ground.

Her experiences with the Horti Project
made a deep impression on Alison.
Being outside and active gave me a new
perspective, she says. The smell and feel
of the soil as it ran through my fngers,
the chatter by the propagator and tasting
freshly picked plums for the frst time
in my life all helped me on the road to
recovery. She even began to enjoy a bit
of drizzle when it fell, it didnt just cool
me down after all that hard work, it gave
the fowers a much needed drink too! At
a time when my depression made me feel
that everything was wrong and nothing
worked, gardening, horticulture and
participating in the fow of nature really
nourished my soul and reset my mind.
4 | The Morningside Mirror | Autumn 2014
Sarah Stevenson:
Planting
seedlings
Sarah Stevenson attends the gardening
club once a week and she shares
Alisons sentiments. Its great to be
in the gardens and the Glasshouses,
theyre really special places that are
away from the stale air of the hospital
wards. But shes keen to point out
that its not just the open spaces and
relaxed atmosphere that she appreciates
the plants themselves have inspired
her. Recently Ive being doing some
transplanting work, using a fork and
a spoon to tuck tiny cabbage plants
into the soil and separating strands of
baby leeks which just look like fragile
threads. Its really delicate work and
it involves a lot of care and attention.
But watching those seedlings strain
against difcult circumstances and
push through to become strong thriving
plants has meant a great deal me. Its
helped me to think about how people can
also get through hard and challenging
situations.
Autumn 2014 | The Morningside Mirror | 5
Albert Nicholson:
Sitting in the
quiet room
Im on the Patients Council and the
Management Committee. There are four
of us and we visit patients on the wards
to ask them how theyre getting on, and
to fnd out if theyre having any problems
with their stay in hospital. Perhaps the
paintwork is bad or the beds are damp
anything really. Its called collective
advocacy and were trying to help
build a better atmosphere for everyone,
including staf.
On a personal level, Ive got a strong
connection to my spiritual side and
I believe in a more holistic approach
to mental healthcare, one that isnt
dependent on drugs. Care is really
about treating people with kindness,
understanding and developing an
awareness of where theyre coming from.
I dont see much of it. The quiet room is
the only place that Ive felt at peace in
the hospital grounds. Funnily enough I
remember the same room when it was
Ward 1, back around the time of my frst
admission a few decades ago. Now its a
safe, spiritual place which is really being
used - just great.
6 | The Morningside Mirror | Autumn 2014
Patricia Whalley:
Meetings
around the
table
Its just an ordinary wooden table but
it has meant a lot to me says Patricia
Whalley. Taking up most of the kitchen
area in the Glasshouses this table
certainly isnt much to look at but its
what has happened around, over and
on top of it that made a big diference to
her life. It was there that I learnt new
skills in fower arranging, planted seeds
and watched the seasons change. Over
the years lots of conversations have
fowed across its surface. Occasionally
someone around the table would become
distressed, but that was okay, people were
allowed to share their feelings and there
was a lot of empathy.
For Patricia this table was an anchor in
a safe environment. It was a familiar
and secure spot. From there I could see
that things werent stuck, the cycles
of life were moving forwards. The
experiences she gained around this
simple piece of furniture gave her a new
confdence that enabled her to volunteer
with the Patients Council. But the most
signifcant point was when I knew it was
time to leave the table, the kitchen, the
glasshouses and the hospital behind
to progress with the next stage of my
recovery. I realised myself that it was
time to move on.
Autumn 2014 | The Morningside Mirror | 7
Comiston Ward:
Reminders
of home
In a recovery process, personal objects
can often make a big diference. Carla
Raferty, the Charge Nurse on the
Comiston Ward, described some of the
ways that she and the team help patients
to think about reintegrating into their
homes and communities after a stay in
hospital. Home visits are a really useful
way to make new connections, she said.
Seeing patients in the context of their
home environments gives us a real
insight into their interests, whether it
be a love of cats or a passion for crime
fction. Knowing a bit more about what
makes individuals tick leads to new
conversations that can really help with
rehabilitation. While were out and
about we often encourage patients to
select items to bring back into the ward
because we know that these objects can
bring a lot of comfort. Mugs are a really
popular choice and I can understand
why. Not only are they recognisable
objects that help to make the
environment less clinical, they remind
our patients that theyre on a recovery
path that will take them home. Besides,
I know that theres nothing better than
the taste of tea from your own mug!
8 | The Morningside Mirror | Autumn 2014
My
favourite
place
I really like that I can see a variety of
wildlife just by looking out of the windows
of the hospital. Taking 5 minutes to gaze
at rabbits, squirrels and a number of
diferent species of birds can often help
to reduce my stress levels.
Louise Galloway
For me it has to be the extent and the
expanse of the hospital grounds. In some
places you can actually feel like youre
in the countryside to be able to get a
connection with nature in the hospital
grounds is really important.
Moira MacFarlane
There are several benches dotted
around the grounds that have great
views of the trees in the grounds, trees
that were planted a long time ago if I
have time, I love to grab a sandwich and
have my lunch on one of the benches.
Sean Harper
Autumn 2014 | The Morningside Mirror | 9
Kirsten Lloyd:
Strange
connections
woven
through
time
Back in July I was invited to write
another edition of the Morningside
Mirror. Ive been doing this for a few
years now. My day job involves arranging
photographs on the walls of an art
gallery and I really appreciate these
annual opportunities to come to the
Royal Edinburgh Hospital and discover
frst-hand how art and creativity afect
the daily lives of staf and patients here.
Last year was particularly special as
I was asked to focus on the history of
the Hospital as part of the Bicentennial
celebrations. This place has played a part
in the family histories of many of the
citys residents and Im no diferent my
grandfather (or papa as we knew him)
was admitted in the mid 1960s for a few
weeks. While he was here he participated
in some of the craft workshops organised
for patients and the woven footstool that
he made is now in my brothers fat in
Leith. Though I like to think this is for
sentimental reasons its more likely
because its orange and black the
colours of his football team.
When I returned to the Glasshouses in
early August to interview Albert, Sarah
and Karina for the new Morningside
Mirror, I found a copy of the 2013 edition.
We were all so busy with the celebrations
last year I hadnt had a chance to see
the fnal version which was as usual
beautifully designed and packed with
photographs. Over my lunch break I
sat down to have a proper look and to
my astonishment I saw a picture of my
papa on the front cover. Sitting down
and facing away from the camera he
was watching a weaving demonstration,
apparently learning the skills required
to produce my brothers footstool. I
immediately started to doubt myself.
Surely it was too much of a coincidence.
Only the side of his face could be
glimpsed and he died when I was only
two. Yet I still have vivid memories of
him and there was something so familiar
about this man the leg of his glasses,
his hands as they gripped the strands of
material and, most of all, the way he sat.
I took a photo, emailed it to my parents
and then called them. My Dad confrmed
that this was, without a shadow of a
doubt, his father. It took a while for it all
to sink in. Thousands of photographs
could have represented the history of the
Royal Edinburgh Hospital. In fact, this
one was chosen from amongst a pile of
ofcial press images. And right there,
printed on top was my name.
I didnt really know my papa, I was too
young when he died, but dancing for
him as he clapped in time and laughed is
my earliest memory. He is spoken about
often and is remembered as a generous,
even-tempered, funny and intelligent
man with a special fair for languages.
He was greatly loved and Ive often been
captivated by my Grans tales of their
courtship during the War. Being brought
together on the pages of the Morningside
Mirror a full 32 years after his death has
been a peculiar experience. It has meant
a lot to my family (especially my Gran)
and I think it says a great deal about
the place this hospital holds in the local
community past, present and future.
10 | The Morningside Mirror | Autumn 2014
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