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Art in care settings: the experience of the Maggiore Hospital, Bologna

We are pleased to present an interview to two healthcare professionals who made the Art in care settings experience possible: Massimo Grezio, nursing coordinator of General Surgeries, and Professor Elio Jovine, director of the complex General Surgery A Unit at Maggiore Hospital (Bologna). We finally interviewed Nicola Barni, General Manager at Hollister, to also include the point of view of the company that gave its unconditional support to the project with the Dansac brand.

Q. Massimo Grezio, how did the project Art in care settings come about?

MG. The project was born five years ago; I was involved during a training event, together with other stoma nurses from all over Italy. In the beginning, I was a bit sceptical about the realisation of this path, because I did not believe that patients need to talk about themselves, to express their experience through narrative medicine – but probably I was wary. We collected hundreds of narratives that revealed the fear, hope, but above all, the trust patients have in professionals involved in their care path. Hence the idea of ​​transforming patients’ narratives into images: these emotions prompted us to overcome the obstacles we encountered. Initially, we came across the distrust of some structures involved; then we were lucky enough to know L’Arché Centre and its fantastic community. Our motivation and tenacity, together with the help of an art therapist, made this project possible, with a social and therapeutic value for both the patients of the ward and the disabled people of the territory. This is the result: seven tables, as many as the colours of the rainbow, with hope and affection messages for patients.

Q. How was the project perceived by people living the ward?

MG. The work added more colour and humanity to the ward. Patients and visitors are attracted not so much by the beauty of the paintings, but by hope, genuineness and courage messages by L’Arche people. I believe that patients and their relatives have, today, a completely different approach to the narration of their illness; they often ask me to participate in this kind of projects. I believe that narrative medicine has achieved its goal: to make these patients’ lives less tiring and to improve their quality of life. I am sure it will not end here.

Q. Professor Jovine, how can art support medical practice, from your point of view?

EJ. Medical practice itself is an art, where professionals try to express themselves at best to give comfort to patients. With the project Art in care settings, we made this concept a reality, allowing not only the patient but also his/her family to perceive how much concreteness lies behind our daily commitment.

Q. How did you experience yours and your team’s involvement in the project?

EJ. Undoubtedly the most representative word that describes our approach – mine and my team’s – is enthusiasm. The emotions coming from the canvases – painted by people who, through their suffering, have nevertheless managed to convey a message of hope to us – have struck and allow us to give ourselves a momento for reflection.

Q. Nicola Barni, why did DANSAC decide to support this initiative within your support for the ostomy world?

NB. Helping to create a people-oriented culture is a responsibility for important companies like Hollister. The DNA project, which we have been carrying out since 2015 with the Dansac brand, is one of the initiatives we concretely support: it focuses on the person, his/her family and background, the fragility and the emotions linked to the illness experience and to the trauma of the ostomy. Through DNA we give our contribution to improve the care path and to raise awareness on a subject so delicate and so little known as the ostomy.

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Degree in Political Science, Master in Health Management at SDA Bocconi in Milan. He developed research project, training and consultancy in healthcare organizations. He is professor of organization and health politics. In recent years he focused his interest on sustainability and personalization of care through the narrative approach. He has authored various project research, articles and essays on these topics. He is Director of the Health Area of the ISTUD Foundation, member of the Board of the Italian Society of Narrative Medicine.

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