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Art in Hospitals to Enhance Patient Care

The Arts Council of Wales has proposed that artists are important to the design process of any new hospital plans in Wales to help create better environments for patients.

The artist has to be part of the design team for all new hospital that is going to come up in the future. This is in order to ensure that the patients morale is boosted from the work of art.

The radical plan, outlined in a draft strategy Arts in Health and Wellbeing, is one of a number to increase the role the arts play in boosting peoples health.

Peter Tyndall, chief executive of the Arts Council of Wales said art can have a beneficial impact on patients. He said, For a relatively small proportion of the overall cost, it can make a huge difference to the quality of environment that is created. The design life of a new hospital is about 60 years, if you invest at the start of the build, taken over the life of the hospital, it is a small cost.

Research has demonstrated that an artistic environment can lessen the requirement for pain-killing drugs in a hospital setting.

Arts has always been associated with a positive effect on both health and wellbeing research by the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital found that live music helped to ebb the levels of anxiety of patients receiving day chemotherapy; Visual arts and live music also helps ebb the levels of anxiety and depression in patients during the preoperative process in a day surgery.

Traditionally the arts have been used in two main ways in healthcare settings as decorative pieces to improve the environment, and as therapy, especially for people with mental health problems. But the arts are also playing an increasing role in peoples general wellbeing and day-to-day health.

Mr. Tyndall said, When you think about wellbeing, take the notion that people arent doing enough exercise in terms of sport the take up among men has generally been higher than among women . For some people the gym is not particularly appealing compared to dance for many dance can be very fulfilling, help keep them active and contribute to their mental and physical wellbeing.

There is a whole range of different ways in which the arts and health can come together.

Arts can also be used as a medium for public health promotion in the past art forms, such as theatre, have been used to get across messages about teenage pregnancy, drug and substance abuse and even obesity, heart disease, testicular cancer and breast cancer.

This radical plan has aroused a lot of controversy. There has been wide spread criticism of NHS trusts in the UK who have spent tens of thousands of pounds on art installations at a time when they are considering cutting services because of financial problems. Plans by NHS trust officials to spend 1m on art works in Lancashire created extensive storm at a time when the trust was 4m in debt.

The Arts Council of Wales strategy will be out for public consultation for 12 weeks. It outlines the way in which the arts and health can be developed in Wales, to ensure that patients and the public are getting the utmost benefit.


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