Arts in hospitals celebrated at national showcase

Arts in hospitals celebrated at national showcase

Artwork in East Wing, St Thomas' HospitalOver a hundred healthcare professionals, artists, policy-makers and others got together yesterday to recognise the achievements of the arts in helping to improve health and wellbeing within healthcare environments.

The evening celebration marked the launch of London Creativity and Wellbeing Week and was preceded by a roundtable at the House of Lords on the subject. The Charity played hosts to the event, held at St Thomas’ Hospital.

This year's Creativity and Wellbeing Week kicked off with a showcase of arts programmes by 15 leading hospitals from across the UK – from visual arts, to dance, singing or theatre. These initiatives have demonstrated a positive impact on the outcomes of patients, including a faster recovery and shorter hospital stays, as well as benefits for staff and visitors.

Celebrated illustrator Sir Quentin Blake and Lord Alan Howarth of Newport, a strong advocate for the value of arts in health, addressed the crowd and welcomed the momentum the field is experiencing.

Sir Quentin – whose work is exhibited extensively in hospitals and other public spaces – talked about the ‘meaningful contribution’ the arts bring to healthcare environments. Reflecting on his role as an artist during the roundtable earlier, he explained how ‘in a hospital situation you realise your work does speak to people.’

The two special guests were accompanied by the Chairman of Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, Sir Hugh Taylor, and our Chief Executive, Kieron Boyle, who talked about the Charity’s commitment to arts in health:

“Many of the best innovations come from thinking at angles on difficult problems. Finding answers with people, rather than for them. Being bold in re-imagining things. That’s something the arts is rather good at. And in health, the evidence and outcomes are there to back it up.”

The roundtable held earlier in the day was convened by the All Party Parliamentary group (APPG) on Arts, Health and Wellbeing and it explored the issue with policy-makers, MPs, clinical practitioners and others. We are an active partner in the APPG, which was launched in 2014 to review current practice and research in the field and to develop policy recommendations.

Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust is widely recognised as a prime exponent in the use of arts in healthcare. We work in partnership with the Trust to use items from our large fine arts and heritage collection and commission exciting artists to enhance the quality of care. Recent examples include bespoke programmes of arts for the new Cancer Centre at Guy’s and the Emergency Floor at St Thomas’.

During the evening, guests were treated to a performance by a choir of people with respiratory issues - part of our supported Singing for Better Breathing project. They also a chance to join tours of key artworks in the Charity’s collection at St Thomas' by two hospital porters as part of a pilot scheme to train these frontline professionals to help patients engage and enjoy the arts around them.

The Charity and the Trust are taking part together in London Creativity and Wellbeing Week (13-19 June) with a performance involving patients and staff on 15 June at Guy’s Hospital and an exhibition of artworks from local museums entitled Making Space for Wellbeing, which will be open until September, also at Guy’s.