Patients at community hospitals throughout Oxfordshire will soon be able to enjoy the restorative power of the arts to make them feel better.

Oxford Health Charity, which fundraises to support and enhance services across Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust, is rolling out a Creating with Care (CWC) programme at more community hospital wards in Wallingford, Didcot, Bicester, Abingdon and Oxford.

It will see dance, mime, film, music, visual arts, crafts, cabaret, photography, exhibitions and even heritage visits to wards – activities not usually associated with a hospital environment but all designed to enhance patient experience and boost a sense of wellbeing.

The CWC programme has been bringing smiles, lifting spirits and giving a feelgood factor at Witney Community Hospital for the past two years thanks to funding support from West Oxfordshire District Council.

Now Oxford Health Charity, which incorporates 41 causes including ROSY  (Respite care for Oxfordshire’s Sick Youngsters)  has dedicated just under £10,000 to extend the programme to five more locations.

Angela Conlan, arts co-ordinator for the programme said: “At Witney, CWC has enabled staff to get to know their patients better and gain an understanding of their life stories, as well as providing a distraction for patients while in hospital. This really lifts sprits and sometimes helps people make new friends.”

Activities have included a vintage cabaret garden party, book of poems and stories written by staff and patients with local poet  Winslow, new artwork for the hospital including a mosaic for the garden and a
photographic exhibition for the corridors.

CWC has also offered dance lessons, art sessions, and many other activities, and staff and patients report an improvement in their morale.

One patient said: “I like that dance always makes you feel better. It frees up all your muscles, it brings some lightness to your existence.” While another taking part in a craft session joked: “I enjoyed that, I am proud of what I have achieved, even without my glasses.”

And visual artist, Claire Goodall said: “I really see the benefits for people recovering from their illness. It’s a gentle activity and something that’s easy to pick up.”

If you would like to get involved in supporting the development of art activities across both mental and physical health teams, you can either make a donation to our Artscape appeal (www.oxfordhealth.charity/appeal/artscape-fund) or by volunteering to support the roll out of these projects in your local area.

Have you got artistic flair?

We are currently recruiting for CWC volunteers at Abingdon, Bicester, Didcot, Wallingford and Witney.

You’ll need a flair for creativity – art, dance, music – and will be linked with the Creating with Care coordinator to help support the delivery of various projects at each location, engaging with patients and staff to involve them in the activity and promote wellbeing.

To offer your services download an application form from www.oxfordhealth.nhs.uk/getting-involved-with-oxford-health/volunteering/ (application form)

Return it to volunteering@oxfordhealth.nhs.uk or post to Volunteering Team, Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust, Trust HQ, Warneford Hospital, Headington, Oxford, OX3 7JX. All applications are reviewed and you will be required to complete a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) form.

Find out more about volunteering, please visit www.oxfordhealth.nhs.uk/getting-involved