Using art and creativity to improve people's health and wellbeing

Here's the shared example

‘You can point to art and ask residents what they think. If the picture is colourful it brightens your day’

- Member of staff, The Helen Ley Care Centre

The Helen Ley Care Centre
The Helen Ley Care Centre in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, provides rehabilitation, day, respite and long-term care for people living with multiple sclerosis or similar neurological condition. Through an innovative combination of nursing care, therapeutic support and a wide range of social activities, they aim to help people who struggle with their daily routines and functions, such as breathing and communicating, regain their life skills and retain their independence.

Paintings in Hospitals
Paintings in Hospitals uses art and creativity to improve the health and wellbeing of patients, service users and carers. We have a collection of around 4100 artworks, which are available for loan to health and social care sites across England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Aims and Objectives
The aim of our work with Helen Ley Centre was to create a more reassuring, inspiring and welcoming care environment, to support stronger relationships, and to:
• Reduce levels of stress and anxiety for patients/ service users, visitors and staff
• Improve patients’ and visitors’ satisfaction with their overall experience
• Improve the working environment for members of staff 

Loan process
In this project, the loan and engagement work was facilitated by grant-funding. In 2014, Paintings in Hospitals obtained a grant from Warwick District Council to expand the improvement of healthcare environments in order to increase levels of positive emotional wellbeing in the region. The Helen Ley Care Centre was identified as one of seven key sites to benefit from the collaboration. The centre was approached and once the project was approved by the site, our Regional Coordinator for the West Midlands worked closely with staff and regular service users, guiding them through the selection and display of the artworks.

5 original artworks co-selected for the site’s main areas had in common a feeling of abstraction, using vivid compositions enriched by expressive textures, bright and vibrant colours. The mediums are mixed media on paper and mono-prints. The selected artists included Lay Koay, Jacquie Turner, Patrick Smith and Andrew Paterson. The artworks have been exhibited at the corridor, lounge and dining room areas of the Centre since June 2014.
This project has allowed us to create a successful model of collaboration with local authorities to help them meet local care issues, and one that can be replicated in regions throughout the country, ensuring the therapeutic benefits of art reach more people who could benefit.

Impact and feedback
Before and after research data was collected by a Regional Coordinator at the site, using the charity’s externally validated Healthcare Questionnaire (HCQ). Key findings for the installation of art at Helen Ley included an ‘increase in the overall happiness of staff, patients and visitors’, as well as ‘a decrease in patient and visitor anxiety levels’ after the artworks were installed in the premises.

We found that patients and visitors had an increased ability to enjoy; laugh; be cheerful; feel energetic; and ‘look forward to things’ - and a more positive perception of themselves since the art was installed.

Results showed they felt overall less ‘tense, frightened, worried, restless, nervous and panicky’ in a care centre with artworks. Moreover, levels of restlessness and nervousness among staff, patients and visitors were lower after the installation of the artworks.

Furthermore, our artworks had a significant positive impact on staff, patient and visitor’s perception of the environment. The majority of service users had thought their surroundings were ‘clinical’ and ’boring’ before the installation of the artworks. Once the loan of art was in place, a greater number felt the environment was ‘bright’, ‘interesting’ and ’homely’. Similarly, most staff considered their surroundings to be ‘stressful’ before the installation of artworks on site. After the arrival of the artworks they primarily felt their surroundings to be ‘interesting’ and ‘colourful’. Additionally, the artworks also impacted positively on staff interaction, particularly on their communication levels, and on service users’ positive perceptions of the care staff.

Population groups: 
People living in residential care
People with long term conditions
People with mental health problems
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