Reflecting on the ‘Sensing Spaces of Healthcare’ booklets

This wonderful set of booklets popped through my letterbox the other day and immediately caught my attention! They were beautifully presented and had much in them to appeal to the senses. Sometimes as a researcher it is easy to get caught up in thinking rather than paying attention to the senses and yet everyone’s daily experiences are intertwined with the senses at every turn, so it is indeed important to consider them…

The first booklet I opened was ‘Waiting Spaces’ and I was immediately struck by quite how much waiting goes on in hospitals (and unfortunately also in ambulances these days). I started to think about what it is like to wait when you are breathless and from my earlier research I remember people saying it can be very distressing and that the environment can cause extra stress e.g. other people being loud/aggressive.

One poem from the booklet by Hugo Williams particularly struck me-I feel it really describes how life can become so restricted by illness/breathlessness and it chimed very much with my Breathing Space concept. I was very taken with the line “You’d like to go out of course, to see if you still exist…’ What do you think of this poem?

The next booklet I opened was called ‘Thresholds’ and Ian Williams’ comic reminded me of the lockdown peace that reigned in the streets then and our collective hope for an improvement to our living conditions including lower air pollution (this hasn’t materialised yet, but it is one of the main aims of Asthma + Lung UK).

And then towards the end of Ian’s cartoon there was this image-how I long to take deep breaths…Shouldn’t we all be able to take deep breaths of clean air?

Then I came to ‘Corridors’ with Kate McLean’s ‘Smellscapes’ and what sprung to mind was all the smells that people living with breathlessness tell me trigger much worse breathlessness: perfumes, disinfectants, soaps, pollution, pollen… How difficult it must be to need to come to hospital because of your breathlessness and then be assailed by smells that make your breathlessness even worse!

The final booklet I’d like to mention was ‘Operating Theatre’ with its ‘Playlist for surgery’ by the Hospital Senses Collective. Here my thoughts turned to wondering if people with breathlessness might benefit from making their own ‘Playlist for relaxing when breathlessness’ including a range of soundscapes and songs that each person finds relaxing. Anyone fancy drawing up your own playlist and sharing how it makes you feel with me?

Hats off to the Sensing Spaces team for producing a wonderful set of booklets that stimulate the mind and the senses! To find out more about this wonderful project click here.

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