Taking Note

Sharing moments of happiness across the Addenbrooke's community

Hospitals are busy and sometimes overwhelming places. The Addenbrooke’s Hospital site is like a small town in itself, with over 40,000 people moving around the spaces everyday.  CCI’s project Taking Note began exploring how stories might connect individuals across this community in 2016 – the patients, staff, researchers, visitors, volunteers and many others who spend time there every day. These stories are all about happiness, however fleeting or seemingly insubstantial. They are about the individual moments that are recorded if we find a way to stop and take notice. Many of them are gathered below....

Sharing moments of happiness across the Addenbrooke's community

Hospitals are busy and sometimes overwhelming places. The Addenbrooke’s Hospital site is like a small town in itself, with over 40,000 people moving around the spaces everyday.  CCI’s project Taking Note began exploring how stories might connect individuals across this community in 2016 – the patients, staff, researchers, visitors, volunteers and many others who spend time there every day. These stories are all about happiness, however fleeting or seemingly insubstantial. They are about the individual moments that are recorded if we find a way to stop and take notice. Many of them are gathered below.

Since we began, we have held two pop-up events in the public areas of the hospital, curated two exhitions in the hospital itself and two in the centre of Cambridge, shared the work at conferences and events and gathered over 100 stories. 

I walked past your exhibition every day. It made me smile. I liked the simple things - the personal moments - like the picture of the hug and the mother watching her daughter go off to school. It's just so human. You feel you are in their personal moments. Keep doing it. It's really special.

Diane (Specialist Nurse)

Being part of Taking Note has made me realise it is good to share one's experiences. I've received so many positive comments from people who have seen the exhibition.  It was lovely to be able to share my story with you.  I hope people can understand that being in hospital doesn't have to be a negative experience.  I was thrilled to see my story as part of the exhibition and so was my husband. The project should continue.  I think it will encourage patients to be more positive .  Taking Note helps people to think outside the box. 

Mavis

The stories collected to date and shared via the project Facebook page since we began are also gathered here:

 

 

The initial phase in 2016 involved artists Susanne Jasilek and Filipa Pereira-Stubbs and illustrator Josie BirchPatsy Rathbone created the cloth of pockets specially for the project. For 2017 the project is developing links with poets and poetry. 

The project is ongoing and people are invited to take part by:

  • Joining the day of events on National Poetry Day, Thursday 28th September - details here.
  • Finding the project facebook page and contributing to the conversation
  • Emailing a note to info@cambridgecandi.org.uk or writing to Addenbrooke’s Arts, PO Box 146, Cambridge University Hospitals, Hills Road, Cambridge CB2 0QQ

We have been especially touched by hearing back from those who contributed stories about the impact on them of being involved in the project. We met Joao, a nurse, when we visited the wards for the elderly back in 2016 and his story featured in the second exhibition. It was about his baby Oliver and here he is showing Oliver the exhibition itself.

We have also heard from visitors about how the exhibitions have helped them, offering them different ways to go and be alongside people they are visiting.

I don’t like hospital environments, and after an episode at A&E in early Feb this year, I briefly passed out, probably due to heat and stress. My sister, a GP, suggested that I simply needed to become more familiar with the environment – something I didn’t intend doing anytime soon. However the opportunity came in May, when a friend Bob went to Addenbrooke’s for a major operation. He was likely to be in for some weeks, and I decided to try to visit him every other day, if possible.

On one of the early visits when I’d walk to the ward with a little trepidation, I spotted the Taking Note exhibition on the arts space in a main corridor. Each time I passed, I read a different story - about a smile, a hug, the scent of summer, a laugh with a stranger and so on. What struck me powerfully is the choice we all have to reframe our experience, however difficult, and notice the positives. I tried to do this on my visits, giving less attention to the bewildering equipment, catheters and intravenous ghastliness, and instead focused on the signs of deep and loving care in a frontier where several people were balanced between life and death.

Bob’s condition was very complex. Not only his health, but his whole wellbeing is fragile, and we have regularly talked about the Taking Note initiative. Each visit, we would both try to notice something tangibly positive – the feeling of warm sunshine on the skin, an overheard anecdote that makes us laugh; a lilting Irish accent reminding him of travels, and so on.

The Taking Note exhibition was intriguing but not intrusive, just there for us to be drawn in by curiosity or not. No pressure – simple but powerful stories that made us think; and left us with a choice about what we dwell on. It has been humbling how Bob, whose health has slowly deteriorated further, has somehow taken heart in small blessings. I guess it’s easy to do this walking by a babbling stream, but less so if you’re dying on ward L4.

That’s why we need exhibitions like these. 
Alasdair, visitor

Cambridge News wrote about the project here and Cambridge TV featured it in their news programe on Thursday 12 May. 

Taking Note was inspired by the recent personal experiences of Ruth Sapsed (CCI’s Director):

I’ve had a close relationship with the hospital since 2011 when I had to have emergency neurosurgery. It had to be repeated in April 2015 and I wanted to find a way to distract and comfort both myself but also family and friends as I approached the planned date. As a documenter of many of CCI’s projects, I’m used to listening out for the unexpected and surprising observations people make and it was fascinating to turn this process on myself.

I invited a group of us to create a 'Wall of Happiness' on Facebook where we shared any small positive moments we noticed in our day. People loved it. They offered all sorts - stories of delicious tastes, smells, a tree they passed as they walked to work, an old alarm clock that sits on their desk and keeps good time. One friend has since created an award winning film about happiness inspired by one of the posts. Doing this together was really joyous.

It is a huge pleasure to reimagine the Wall of Happiness as a project for the Addenbrooke’s community.

This image comes from my first stay at Addenbrooke's in 2012. I had returned to my bed to discover it freshly made by one of the staff and with my daughter’s bear (bought in by her comfort me) settled in and enjoying the computer. It made me smile and the other ladies on the ward too, but also, I like to think, whoever set it up. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Like all arts activities at Cambridge University Hospitals, this project is not funded by the NHS but is designed to support and enhance the care and experience of patients, visitors and staff to the hospital.

Taking Note logos

We acknowledge the grant we have received from the D&J Lloyd Community First Fund, a charitable fund managed by Cambridgeshire Community Foundation

Read more
Read less
No results found.
Elizabeth (patient)

The weather was lovely so I took the poems and the cordial for walk.

28/09/2017
Autumn (patient) and Rahma

We’re going to keep these poem pills and read them again.

03/10/2017
Sabrina, local resident

I just came here to do my shopping today - and this just happened.

03/10/2017
Ava Alice (16), Active Board Representative

Ava Alice (16), Active Board Representative

28/03/2017
Eesha (16), ACTIVE Board representative

Eesha (16), ACTIVE Board representative

23/03/2017
Lynne, Patient Experience Representative

Lynne, Patient Experience Representative

22/03/2017
Paris (16), Active Board Representative

Paris (16), Active Board Representative

17/03/2017
Esme (talking with Filipa at a Taking Note pop-up event)

Esme (talking with Filipa at a Taking Note pop-up event)

01/09/2017
Mel, medical photographer

Mel, medical photographer

31/08/2017
Allan, Transfusion Specialist Lead for the Pathology Partner

Allan, Transfusion Specialist Lead for the Pathology Partnership

30/08/2017
Hannah, Obstetrics and Fetal Maternal Medicine Consultant

It was such a beautiful moment for me when I saw how this group of head nurses from Metapan Hospital.

24/08/2016
Joao, nurse

I just love the fact that after a 12.5 hour shift I arrive home and put my baby on my lap and smell that baby smell from his hair.

15/07/2016
Paul, staff

A happy moment is the first time my daughter walked outside.

18/06/2016
Rachelle, staff

Walking my dog at 5.30am and the sun rising and a new day beginning.

15/06/2016
Clare, staff

For me a lot of happiness comes through music.

09/06/2016
Wendy, parent

Watching my children discover something new. It’s so lovely to watch.

03/06/2016
Louise, patient (10)

I'm mostly happy when my friends and family come to visit in hospital.

27/05/2016
Owen, patient (6)

I like playing the instruments in music.

26/05/2016
Joe, patient (11)

When my Grandad comes to visit me, he tells me jokes what are too rude to mention!

23/05/2016
David, patient

A little while ago they bought in a machine that helped me stand up.

19/05/2016
Lucy, patient

Dancing 4 times a week is on my mind.

18/05/2016
Annie, patient

It was seeing my grand-daughters after I’d been in a coma.

16/05/2016
Betty, patient

I did so want a boy and I had one.

15/05/2016
Ruthie, nurse

I like going out window shopping.

13/05/2016
Norah, patient

I didn't marry as I knew I always had to be in charge!

13/05/2016
Rachel, patient

Being supported with cuddles from staff whilst being given life changing challenges.

02/05/2016
Tom, visitor

Cycling here this morning I saw the cows back again on Midsummer Common.

22/04/2016
Debbie, nurse

Sometimes just going home and listening to my children makes me happy.

20/04/2016
Rose, volunteer

I’ve literally just had a chat with a very frail old man about steam engines.

09/04/2016
Damian, Arts Programme

I always have a little chuckle as I read this on my way to the toilets.

06/04/2016
Mel, support services

One of my special moments each day is when my youngest son gives me a 20 second hug.

03/04/2016
Debbie, nurse

I suppose for me personally, dancing make me happy.

02/04/2016
Allison and Beth (sisters), Laundry

A while ago now we had to track down a lego-man that a little boy had lost.

29/03/2016
Stephen, patient

I think the real trick actually is recognising a happy moment.

27/03/2016
Susan, volunteer

We always have a hug - a special moment before we go our independent ways.

25/03/2016
Sam, Addenbrooke’s Charitable Trust

My favourite bit of the day is standing on my doorstep.

25/03/2016
Denise, teacher

I sometimes think about the people who are up working in the cranes.

24/03/2016
Ramez, Surgeon

Yesterday I saw how a student nurse helped a patient by going to sit with her in recovery.

23/03/2016
Neil, Taking Note administrator

This is a 1930s Phinney-Walker Travel Alarm Clock which is a joy in itself.

22/03/2016
John, volunteer

A smile on a young face is my moment I want to share with you from today.

21/03/2016
Ruth, patient

My daughter’s bear settled in and enjoying the computer.

17/03/2016
Mavis, volunteer

I was here for 3 and half months as a patient after I got knocked off my bike.

20/03/2016
Rosie, former nurse and patient

Swimming was one of the first things I did when I came home.

17/03/2016
Ruth, patient

My daughters have been looking after me so tenderly this afternoon.

20/03/2016
Darren, Healthcare assistant

I smile when I’m dancing.

17/03/2016
 

CCI sends out regular ebulletins with news of upcoming events and projects. We promise not to spam you or pass your name on to any one else.