In April and May 2012 Playing On ran bi-weekly workshops with staff and patients in the secure psychiatric unit at Homerton Hospital . The sessions included check-ins, mindfulness breathing, drama games, acting classes, character creation and improvisations. The residency culminated in an improvised performance in Joshua Ward to an audience of patients and staff.
In the sharing patients played staff roles (Psychiatrist, Ward Sister, Intern, Pharmacist, Social Therapist) and staff played a patient, her mother and a health worker. There was a Q and A afterwards where the patients were able to talk about the value of the sessions to the audience and two of the characters were “hot seated”
Director of the unit Jane Kelly said that she had been at the hospital for 20 years and that this was the most successful work she had ever seen on the wards.
Consultant psychiatrist Robert Fisher noted that the patients were able to perspectivise and put themselves in other people’s positions, differentiate between their own concerns and those of the characters and acknowledge when they weren’t doing that.
Patients also gained a sense of self-esteem and achievement from the success of the sharing
Jane Kelly stated that it was important for the staff present to see patients as people with their own unique talents and not just see them through their illness and a desire was expressed to repeat the process and to take it further.