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Amy Creech
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City of Bristol College lecturer to delve into research at Association of Colleges conference

City of Bristol College’s FdA Creative Arts Therapy Studies lecturer, Amy Creech, will speak at the Association of College’s HE Research and Scholarship Conference tomorrow as she delves into the impact a project between a local hospital and the college had on her and her students.

Amy attended the Association of College’s (AoC) research conference last year and was ‘really inspired’ by the way staff from colleges across the country were embedding research into their teaching.

She said: “I saw how it made a real impact on what they were able to do for their students, rather than just being an intellectual exercise. I decided I would try to do something myself this academic year, no matter how small.”

Creative Arts Therapy Studies project
Part of the project the CATS students were working on.

Coinciding with the new partnership project Amy’s Creative Arts Therapy Studies was establishing with the University Hospitals Bristol and Weston (UHBW) at South Bristol Community Hospital, the college and the hospital trust began investigating a way of ‘being in between worlds’.

Amy explained: “For seven weeks, once a week, myself and the year two students located ourselves at the South Bristol hospital. We were given space to meet as a group there and input from a range of professionals working in the hospitals.

“In return, we worked together to plan and deliver creative activities for patients on the ward for frail elderly and stroke patients. These are patients which are often undergoing rehab before discharge, so can be in hospital for longer amounts of time than other patients.”

The programme was jointly planned with the UHBW arts programme director and lead matron so it could be mutually beneficial. The aims for the patients were to:

  • Alleviate boredom and support social connection for inpatients to South Bristol Community Hospital
  • Support the psychosocial needs of the patients
  • Provide an opportunity for creative expression

For students, it was hoped the programme would help them to develop their sense of professionalism and to better prepare them for the requirements of the year two work-based learning.

After Amy was impressed by the work she had seen at the conference in London last summer, the higher education lecturer decided to conduct a small piece of research on this project.

She opted to explore the impact on the students’ sense of themselves as professionals as well as her own observations on its impact on them.

She explained: “What I did wasn’t very different to what any teacher might do when trying a new approach with students – I just wanted to see if it achieved the desired effect. But by giving myself the structure of ‘research’, I think I was able to take a step back from the day to day and explore it in more depth.

“I did some reading and gave myself the space for more reflection than I usually would manage. Through this, I realised it wasn’t only the students’ sense of professionalism which had benefitted from the project, but my own had too.”

Amy started thinking about why it may have happened – debating whether there was something about this project which meant it could have this impact on her as well as the students.

It is this topic which Amy will be discussing at the virtual conference tomorrow (Tuesday 19 May).

Due to the pandemic, lockdown has meant the student’s following work-based learning had to be cut short and so the research was incomplete but she hopes to return to the hospital next year to bring the project to its conclusion.

Find out more about the conference and the Creative Arts Therapy Studies.