Our Raigmore Hospital based art therapy open group runs one to two times per month in line with the rheumatology clinic. Our art therapist also provides one-to-one art therapy for children and young people referred by clinicians. Due to the rural locations of the patients who attend the sessions, our art therapist often provides outreach support as well, to ensure the service is as accessible as possible.

This is also important because, as the hospital's Clinical Nurse Specialist explains: "Some of our patients really struggle to be in the hospital environment and engage much better in environments that don’t hold negative associations."

Nicola, our art therapist, says: "By seeing children within their school settings, we’ve enabled them to benefit when they otherwise may not have been able to access to our art therapy services. We are hoping to broaden this out as much as we can, and try to look at how we can access more people in remote locations, bringing therapy to them."

During lockdown, we are trialling online one-to-one art therapy sessions, with the hope of growing this service when restrictions ease. This might well benefit those children and young people who are too far away to attend our face-to-face sessions or that simply feel more comfortable engaging in sessions from their home. 

For the open groups which take place at the hospital in Rheumatology, families travel for miles to attend their appointments, so are frequently at the hospital for a long day. Mum, Mhairi, drives for more than three hours to take daughter Anna, who has juvenile arthritis, to the art therapy sessions before her check-ups at Raigmore. She said:

"It’s great to have Nicola from the Teapot Trust here to relax her before her appointment. It’s definitely benefited Anna, it’s really positive for kids and parents."

Kieran (13, pictured) recently used this art therapy group. Mum, Penny, said:

"It’s a great welcome after travelling so far. Kieran looks forward to making art. It relieves nervousness and it’s great see a familiar, friendly face when we come to hospital."