"The striking aspect of Dr Sue Jennings' approach to care is that she has never allowed it to be an active to passive role, where care is dispensed to a passive client. Indeed, the rejection of the word 'patient' is because it implies patience and passivity. Instead, Dr Jennings has always viewed the relationship as one of reciprocity, where the carer's role is to re-affirm what is too often neglected, namely the resources and autonomy of those who are in need of care. Dr Jennings' genius is that she applies this not only in theory but also in practice. I was witness to this when I went on a field trip where Dr Jennings was involved with two communities who were in desperate need of care.
One was a marginalised Roma community living in a large village with no utilities or roads, with high unemployment and segregated by the local residents.
The other group consisted of people who were living in a prison-like psychiatric hospital, despite the fact that many of them did not have a medical diagnosis. Neither group were seen to be in need of care, despite being extremely vulnerable.
Dr Jennings' approach to 'Creative Care' was to facilitate a garden party where the autonomy and creativity of both groups were brought to the fore.
The Roma community arrived in their horse carts at the psychiatric hospital. There they brought out their instruments and the musicians played while those in the institution danced: those with dementia with the staff, the staff with the Roma, the Roma with those with thought disorders, everybody dancing with everybody, people with people, thereby creating a situation where carers and cared for became indistinguishable.
Creative Care is just that, it is the moment at which creativity, culture, and autonomy displace infirmity, lethargy, and resignation."
Dr Robert Silman
Chair of Trustees, Rowan Tree Trust