Connectedness in the Context of Healthcare
by Jennifer Kingswell

Reflection

My first healthcare experiences were within geriatric care, alongside patients with moderate to severe dementia. The people I met were some of the most isolated in society and, despite their apparent lack of cognitive agility, becoming increasingly disconnected from family and society undoubtedly impacted on their self-healing and resilience both to their dementia and to other illnesses. In the frightening journey that is Alzheimer's disease, the progressive loss of connection to one's surroundings, family, friends, outside networks, and loss of connectedness to oneself is perhaps one of the most terrifying of futures anyone could imagine. During those years I was blessed with many opportunities to comfort and reassure elderly people whose ability to engage with their surroundings was receding. These people at times were rocking in tears, and the value of one-to-one contact for them both emotionally and physically through holding hands is a lasting memory for me.

In my art piece I hoped to present how the vulnerability and transience of life can feel like water in cupped hands. As the closed hand misses out on engaging with the life of others, it emphasises how the vulnerability of being open and authentic is an essential part of having a lifetime of meaningful interactions with others. Although the defensiveness of the hand protects itself from spilling, its inability to stop leaking causes it to lose its own water, as well as hide away from receiving others input into their life.

The picture of many hands together attempts to illustrate how time can seem to gain in value when given away to others in trust and used collectively. Despite the lack of independence in this system, the picture shows the value of being able to influence and be influenced, and also how the resource can be shuttled between hands to invest in those in greater need such as the elderly and the emerging generation.

Recent months have involved some emotional challenges for me, so reflecting on this subject and the artwork has been both a reward and a struggle. I kept in mind some of the key characters in my life who shaped me as a person whilst drawing many of the hands and tried to give each a measure of uniqueness. Also, developing this perspective helped me to choose to take the risk of authenticity more often than before, and offer genuine connection in conversations.

I understand that the hospital environment can be very pressured, and there are many stories of medical professionals becoming disillusioned by the overwhelming demands of their workload. However, with respect to my future, I hope to find opportunities to stay open and willing to engage in authentic relationships with individuals throughout my time, both within the healthcare environment and in my relationships beyond this profession.

Jennifer Kingswell, Whole Person Care, Year One, 2014

Comments

Caitlin Christie

28 October 2017 - 20:08:07
"This piece stood out to me since I felt that it captured a strong feeling of unity and care in a simple but powerful way. The network of hands at the bottom catching any fallen droplets signifies the important part in medicine that is to make sure that no one is forgotten about and that everyone's voice is heard, which as recognised in the reflection can sometimes be forgotten about due to the ever demanding workload. I wouldn't have immediately guessed that the work was a reflection to Alzheimer's disease, but after knowing this I can see that the droplets of water could also be related to memories falling through the gaps in the hand. Making sure that patients feel safe and cared for despite the demanding workload is important which is why I think this piece is particularly powerful and relevant."

Katie Shea

29 October 2017 - 21:51:31
"This piece spoke to me, as personally, it represented how healthcare is never individual and you are always surrounded by people to help you, whether as a patient or healthcare professional. In the context of the artwork, I think this was represented by how although the closed hand failed to catch any of the water, the many hands below were there as support to fill in where the closed hand was unable. In a healthcare scenario this could be seniors supporting a struggling junior doctor, or a doctor doing their best to support a patient through a difficult time."

Annapurna Jagadish

30 October 2017 - 19:24:27
"I thought this piece was striking because it emphasised the team-based nature of medicine; it is a team effort to provide care. I think the simplicity of the piece drawing with pencil demonstrates the intricacy of both the medical network and also the hands; helping to define the collective effort of many hands joining to be able to hold the water and stop it from spilling. Healthcare is a network and amalgamation of not only other doctors but also other health professionals and this can be evidenced in the artwork. While the emphasis is on teamwork, I like how the piece also highlights the contribution of an individual to the team network and team effort. "

Henry

04 November 2018 - 22:04:12
"There is a great deal of meaning and metaphor packed into the delicate pencil work here. To me the use of water as a metaphor for the transience of life is particularly clever: its gradual seepage through the delicate human structures is of course inevitable, but the grouped hands provoke a strong sense of solidarity and a sense of common purpose to preserve life. It is perhaps a distillation of the Japanese philosophical concept of 'mono no aware'; an awareness that everything is impermanent and a gentle sadness, but acceptance, that this is the state of reality. The presence of different sized and different shaped hands perhaps is a nod to the diversity found across health professionals and the patients they serve. It is important to note however that despite the different sizes, the ultimately they all fit together and form a near water-tight seal: all parties stand side by side, and each party is contributing. This is reflective of the multidisciplinary approach to health that is becoming near ubiquitous. Here, the artist has managed to harness a simple and common gesture of compassion - that of holding another's hand - into a powerful polysemic piece that recognises the profound nature of the challenges health professionals face, but also speaks to the power of kindness and teamwork. "

Milly Seaford

06 November 2018 - 09:10:22
"The connection between Alzheimer’s patients, junior doctors and the artist all relating to this piece really stood out to me, as it represents how medical care effects every individual. Medical care being demonstrated as water droplets shows its necessity for everyone, and the group of hands collecting the water that bypassed the closed hand, meaning it can be redistributed and shared equally, demonstrates the necessity of a community within medicine. This piece also emphasises how patients are able to benefit doctors in return, which may not immediately be apparent as doctors are usually seen distributing care, as the final group of hands could represent patients who are benefiting from the doctor’s treatment and in return creating the relationships mentioned and in turn benefiting doctors and patients alike."

Milly Seaford

06 November 2018 - 09:11:21
"The connection between Alzheimer’s patients, junior doctors and the artist all relating to this piece really stood out to me, as it represents how medical care effects every individual. Medical care being demonstrated as water droplets shows its necessity for everyone, and the group of hands collecting the water that bypassed the closed hand, meaning it can be redistributed and shared equally, demonstrates the necessity of a community within medicine. This piece also emphasises how patients are able to benefit doctors in return, which may not immediately be apparent as doctors are usually seen distributing care, as the final group of hands could represent patients who are benefiting from the doctor’s treatment and in return creating the relationships mentioned and in turn benefiting doctors and patients alike."

Aamir Mohamed

06 November 2018 - 09:22:07
"To me, the art piece represents the uniqueness of individual personalities. In my medical profession, I will need to consider how I use my consultation skills to adapt to the changing dynamic of people's nature, just like 'the hands', some people will be more receptive in their healthcare engagement than others so only then by taking a holistic approach I will be able to meet their health demands."