New artworks a welcome distraction
17 July 2012
St John of God Murdoch’s Emergency Department has
become a more welcoming place for children with the recent arrival
of some new artworks.
A set of eye-catching distraction therapy artworks were recently
installed in the Emergency Department comprising two painted
chairs, and an artwork 'window' for the wall.
Designed by Joanne West Cornish, a leading gift designer and
furniture maker and illustrator in consultation with the Emergency
Department team, the artworks are designed to stimulate positive
associations with beloved pets, favourite toys, fairy-tales, books
and nursery rhymes.
While the Murdoch ED caregivers have always provided a
comforting and warm environment for children, the new artworks are
an example of ‘diversion therapy’ which can help reduce fear and
St John of God Murdoch Hospital Nurse Manager Emergency
Department Gail Chambers said medical procedures and a hospital
environment could be traumatic for some children.
“We use distraction therapy in our Emergency Department to help
reduce fear in children, which can help the time pass faster -
their fear can make treatment times seem forever!" she said.
"We find that by diverting the child’s focus from what the
nurse/doctor is doing we can reduce anxiety in the child, which
helps reduce anxiety of the parents and caregivers. A more relaxed
and cooperative child can also reduce treatment time."
"We have a number of initiatives to ensure our young patients
feel more relaxed in the Emergency Department. Apart from a range
of puzzles, books and activities, we have a television in our
paediatric cubicles. We have also found parents' iPhones and iPads
have been very effective distraction therapies,” said Ms
St John of God Murdoch Hospital Director of Emergency Medicine
Dr Paul Bailey said the management of minor procedures was a
difficult aspect of emergency medicine practice.
“Distraction therapy can assist with the treatment of a
distressed child requiring a minor procedure or examination. This
approach reflects Murdoch's commitment to holistic care and
utilising arts in health care to promote a healing environment," he
"In our specially decorated paediatric ward (St Gabriel's), we
also use a range of age appropriate games and toys to assist our
younger patients to relax during their stay. The ward also features
Radio Lollipop volunteers who assist our team of dedicated
caregivers," said Dr Bailey.
Designer Joanne West Cornish’s colourful past took her from
illustration and graphic design to in-demand furniture and gift
designer and manufacturer within only a few months.
Inspired by a dream, the US born designer’s chairs made their
way into major department store catalogues and international
success before a family tragedy forced a change in direction.
She moved to Perth in 2007, where her artistic skills were
noticed by former Murdoch Arts Consultant Paula Silbert.
“I worked with Dr Andrew Jan (Murdoch Emergency
Department) and Leanne Milligan (Murdoch Director Planning and
Strategy) to create pieces that helped take away the
pain,” said Ms West Cornish.
Ms West Cornish said she hoped the chairs were having the
desired effect and was excited and proud to be involved with the
For more information about Ms West Cornish’s work visit www.joannewestdesign.com
IMAGE: Artist Joanne West Cornish and Registered Nurse
Kristie Thomson with the artworks