Nestled in the city centre, not far from Maid Marian Way and the Nottingham Castle, Ropewalk House is home to the Audiology department and the Nottingham auditory Implant Programme (NAIP) – looking after both children and adult patients with hearing issues.As an important part of Nottingham’s NHS hospitals, it was recognised that Ropewalk House would benefit from a splash of colour, especially to support the younger patients who may find hospital environments scary or unsettling.
Claire Benton, Head of Audiology at Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust, saw an opportunity to do something about this. So, she applied for a grant of just under £10,000 from Nottingham Hospitals Charity to enhance the clinical spaces for Children's Audiology and NAIP. This was approved, and funded thanks to a legacy donation from a gift in the Will from the estate of Gordon Reginald Garwood.
The first step was to define a brief and the vision. Children’s Audiology and NAIP wanted to create characters within the artwork, who would reassure and comfort our youngest patients when they visited the hospital. Many patients have additional needs such as sensory challenges or neurodiversity, so that also needed factoring into the brief – whether that related to calming colours, how the mural was designed or the characters’ personalities.
Meet Octopus and DuckTwo endearing and inclusive characters were brought to life through the artwork, who would represent different types of audio implants. Look closely and Octopus is wearing a cochlear implant, and Duck is wearing hearing aids!
The mural is a wayfinding guide, making it easier for children and their families to navigate the complex layout of Ropewalk House. Patients and their families can follow the arrows, helpfully provided by Octopus, and look out for the other characters on their journey.
The project will not stop there! Next, Octopus and Duck will feature in other ways across both Children’s Audiology and NAIP, from colouring books, to letters home and stickers, fostering familiarity and a sense of identity for the departments.
"We wanted to go above and beyond to create an environment that feels fun and engaging, helping children feel relaxed and less anxious about their visits.
"The mural and characters have brought an incredible sense of joy and excitement to the whole of Ropewalk House. We are grateful for the support and funding from Nottingham Hospitals Charity that allowed us to do this project, and it’s truly heart-warming to see the positive impact that art can have in healthcare settings."
Megan Dawes, Arts Co-ordinator at NUH, said:
"It is fantastic to see the Ropewalk House team’s vision come to life through F.F.W.I.H's bright, bold and friendly artwork. This mural is one of the biggest that we have supported with to date! This mural had a particularly special meaning and purpose, to help children, young people and their families navigate their way to appointments at Ropewalk House, whilst providing comfort and joy through the fun artwork."