Mural uplifts legacy of palliative care patients

A colourful mural is brightening a family space at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital (TQEH), providing comfort for palliative care patients and their loved ones at the most challenging of times. 

The vibrant painting was the brainchild of Central Adelaide Local Health Network (CALHN) art therapist Gabby.  

She offers one-on-one and group programs at TQEH to support the emotional wellbeing of palliative care patients and their families. 

Gabby is one of two art therapists working across CALHN sites, a service delivered by The Hospital Research Foundation Creative Health team. 

“This is where patients and families can feel nurtured at a time when there’s a huge amount of distress and difficult emotions,” Gabby says of the family space which houses the mural. 

“It’s based on therapeutic principles of providing distraction that also has elements of imagination and whimsy, and also offers people a way to engage in a mindfulness activity.” 

She says the mural, created by local artist Sair Bean, aims to “foster hope”. 

“There’s a little stairway that goes to a door into a tree. Then you’ve got a whale with its tail up in the air, and you’ve got a boat sailing off into the horizon. 

“These are all elements that don’t overtly talk about death and dying, but there’s an element of something beyond here – all done in this beautifully creative and colourful way”. 

Gabby’s vision for transforming the space was achieved through the fundraising efforts of TQEH palliative care patient Jane Mumford. 

Jane lives with Multiple System Atrophy Cerebellar (MSAC) – a rare neurodegenerative disorder with no cure. 

MSAC affects the body’s autonomic function, causing Jane to live in constant pain as the muscles in the left side of her body spasm uncontrollably.   

Jane says she feels emotional whenever she enters the room.  

“Every dollar donated by so many wonderful people have given those who come into this room a different perspective,” she says.

“Families need a quiet space, a place where they can come together, and it’s changed the room to make it a welcoming space.

“It can now make you feel better and can uplift you. 

“It’s my quiet legacy.”

Picture caption (L-R): Art therapist Gabby, Jane Mumford, nurse Min.