Stays in community hospitals have been less stressful, more relaxing and sometimes even fun for more than 1,100 of our patients  — and it’s all thanks to Creating with Care (CWC).

A special arts programme funded by Oxford Health Charity, it brings creative projects to patients and staff to foster friendship, warmth and encouragement.

CWC has been running at Witney Community Hospital for almost three years and has now spread to Oxford Health’s community hospitals at Abingdon, Bicester, City, Didcot and Wallingford.

The programme is so broad in its delivery that co-ordinator Angela Conlan proudly claims: “There is something for almost everyone and the benefits of getting involved are not limited to those with a creative eye.”

With sessions on photography, art, mosaics, dance, music, vintage cabaret, drama, poetry, and even a bit of  Shakespeare, there has been a variety of stimulating work all allowing patients, many of whom have complex conditions, to get involved.

Nationally there is growing evidence to suggest that the arts in hospitals eases anxiety, stress and depression for both patients and staff.

In feedback Angela has noted an increase in mood scores from patients taking part, that activity has distracted them from the hospital setting and helped them feel more relaxed.

Angela says: “After running a Creating with Care session patients tell us what the sessions have meant to them. Sometimes it’s just a simple ‘thank you’ or just how we have made their day better.

“Quite often, when observing patients in arts sessions you can see how they have been moved by a piece of music, the pride they have in something they have created or how being in the moment during a dance session has uplifted their spirits.”

Creating with Care has just published its annual report.

Creating in numbers

  • There were 188 arts sessions across community hospitals  between January and October attended by 1,139 patients.
  • Creating with Care projects have had more than 40,000 hits across OHFT’s social media platforms since January.
  • Raised £12,000 in outside support for artists fees and a further £1,500 in-kind support.

What the patients say

I didn’t think I could do it, but then I did. I enjoyed getting away from my bed

It kept my mind busy whilst making something beautiful

It’s very therapeutic. I’m so happy sitting here. A very fun time

I was feeling bored and glad to have a distraction

Enjoyed it immensely. It’s better than sitting in your room all day

Key projects

  •  A Knit-a-thon resulting in knitted artworks in the gardens of community hospitals to support Dementia Awareness Week.
  • A performance of Connie’s Colander by Human Story Theatre as part of Dementia Action Week for all our volunteers and artists.
  • A large mosiac by staff, patients and visitors was installed at Wallingford Community Hospital in collaboration with Artscape.
  •  The Mary-Lou Revue launched their Vintage Cabaret ‘Musical Refreshments at the bedside’ at Witney
  • A monthly concert series at Abingdon Community Hospital