Celebrating Carers

Paintings in Hospitals Director Sandra Bruce-Gordon reflects on the role people and art play in care from her personal experience

By Paintings in Hospitals

Sandra Bruce-Gordon

Sandra Bruce-Gordon Audio 1

In the current climate of anxiety and isolation caused by the coronavirus pandemic, no group of people are more deserving of our gratitude and celebration than the tireless, dedicated, and selfless carers on the front line. 

PPE Workers (2020) by Darren ButcherPaintings in Hospitals

Sandra Bruce-Gordon Audio 2

I want to share with you the heroism, compassion, and love that I witnessed from carers who found themselves on the frontline of the battle against the virus.

Mrs ‘Betty’ Gray and carer heroes, Shortwood House, Nottingham. (2020) by Ken MurrayPaintings in Hospitals

The headline on the front page of the local paper read: ‘FOUR KILLED BY VIRUS AT CARE HOME’. The emotive language used to sell papers coming at a time when real support and praise was needed for care homes and their frontline staff dealing with a national emergency. The care home referred to in the article happened to be the home where my mother had lived for two years.  

PPE Workers (2020) by Darren ButcherPaintings in Hospitals

After reading the headline, I spoke to the nursing staff who admitted that when they had seen the article that “our chins are on the floor”. How could this happen to carers who were risking their own and their family’s health every day by just turning up to work? What I was yet to witness was that theirs was not just a job but a calling.

Mrs ‘Betty’ Gray and carer heroes, Shortwood House, Nottingham. (2020) by Ken MurrayPaintings in Hospitals

Sandra Bruce-Gordon Audio 3

As my mother’s health deteriorated, I wished that her last days be spent at her care home; to which the home readily agreed. She returned to a hero’s welcome. I was, unlike so many, privileged to have been allowed to be with my mother at this time. I do not have the words to really describe the warmth and tenderness I witnessed. 

As I sat with her, I lost count of the times one of the carers would knock on the door just to say, “Hello Alice, we’re so glad to have you back”. Most had a story to tell about Alice and shared with me tales of her dry sense of humour and how she made them laugh. 

Beverley June Ishmael (2020) by Louise GillardPaintings in Hospitals

They not only looked after Alice, they also looked after me. I cannot remember when I last had three square meals a day. I had mixed emotions ordering from the menu and having carers attend to my needs at this time when they had so much more to do. It readily became apparent that we were all just one big family and everyone looked after each other. 

Dr Chika Igwe (2020) by Kathryn BellPaintings in Hospitals

They found me a room and a blow-up bed in case I did not want to leave my mother. When I did go for a sleep, they sat with Alice and held her hand. They brought me toast and coffee in the middle of the night; made sure I had everything I needed.

Duncan Rourke (2020) by Sian Wroe-JonesPaintings in Hospitals

Sandra Bruce-Gordon Audio 4

This project is a fitting celebration to just some of the people on the front line of fighting Covid-19. It will ensure that they are never forgotten just as I will never forget their kindness and how privileged I was to have witnessed the bravery, laughter, and tears of care home staff in extraordinary times. They are all truly heroes.

Nurses Vitor & Claudia Gomes: We Live for Each Other (2020) by Helen StonePaintings in Hospitals

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The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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