Oxford Health celebrates national award for Creating With Care

The amazing work done through an Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust artistic initiative has been celebrated today.

Oxford Health celebrates national award for Creating With Care

People connected with the Creating With Care programme gathered at Witney Hospital to celebrate all that it has achieved in recent years and also to give special congratulations and thanks to the two driving forces behind it.

The programme founders, arts coordinator Angela Conlan and dementia nurse Paula Har, were officially handed Community Hospital Association prizes won earlier this year at a special socially-distanced event at Witney Hospital.

Creating with Care is an innovative arts programme running at Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust’s six community hospitals. With the support of artists and the Oxford Health Charity paintings, murals, mosaics, musical and poetry have all become a feature of the Trust’s hospital life.

The work was put forward for, and won, one of the Community Hospitals Association’s (CHA) 50th Anniversary Innovations and Best Practice Awards.

Due to the COVID-19 restrictions at the time the announcement had to be made online. However the Trust and CHA decided that the achievement needed to be marked in fitting fashion.

Angela and Paula were joined by colleagues for an open air celebration to look back on four years of success, and to look ahead to the future.

Emma Leaver, service director, said: “Creating With Care is such a wonderful project and really helps to inspire patients and staff in our community hospitals.

“It is amazing to see how Creating With Care has blossomed from quite a small start into to something that now enhances people’s lives across Oxfordshire.

“I want to say a special thank you to Angela and Paula for everything that they have done so far, and to all the artists, patients and staff who have made the project such a success.”

Angela Conlan said: “I’m so pleased that the work we have been doing over the last four years has been recognised in this way.

“We do this work because we love it and we see what a massive difference art, music and creativity makes to life in our community hospitals.”

Paula Har said: “The award and the judging panel feedback was amazing. Creating with Care will continue to look forward to new and innovative ways of improving the patient experience in our community hospitals.

“I am incredibly proud of this project and all that it has achieved over the four years. Thank you for the support from the teams in each of the hospitals, all the patients who have attended, Oxford Health Charity and West Oxfordshire District Council. We couldn’t do this without them!”

Evelyn Prodger, CHA Committee Member and Quality Improvement Lead said “The judging panel were unanimous in identifying this as the winning entry for the category related to improving patient care.

“Therapeutic joy” sums up this project and the presentation. It is such an impressive piece of work impacting positively on patients, families, staff and the environment. This work is an example of innovation and creativity at its best. Angela and Paula should be so proud of developing and delivering this work. Impressive, joyful, person-centred, effective, evidence based and fabulous!

“As part of our 50-year celebration in 2020 Roy Lilley, our patron, offered to paint a picture of a Community Hospital to present as part of our awards. The judges were so impressed with the quality of this work that Paula and Angela have been chosen to receive this additional prize.”


How it all started

Creating with Care began in January 2017 following a conversation between Oxford Health and representatives of West Oxfordshire District Council.

“They wanted to install a piece of art in the hospital in Witney and we saw an opportunity to go further. The idea for artistic activities and therapeutic work funded by the council was born,” explains Paula Har.

Since then the programme has been extended to all six of Oxford Health’s community hospitals, supported by Oxford Health Charity.

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 allowing patients, many of whom have enduring and complex conditions, to get involved.

The programme has involved local authorities, businesses and artists as well as education, third sector and arts organisations. It has had a total of 4,350 patient attendances and 1,666 staff attendances at its sessions over the last four years. A total of £39,784 has been raised for projects. ​​​​​​​And, on the top of the uplifting experiences, many pieces of beautiful art have been created to enhance the hospital environments.

Senior matron, clinical lead for community hospitals Helen Lambourne said: “I am just so proud of this service. Who could have imagined that an artist and a nurse could come up with this vision and work in the way they have done! When you see the impact on the patient, it is quite phenomenal.”

Helen and the rest of the community hospitals management team – Emma Leaver Service Director and interim Head of Service Kate Riddle, along with the now-retired head of community hospitals Lucy Wells and service manager Carol Duncombe – have firmly supported Creating with Care and want to secure its future in community hospitals.

Not even the coronavirus has been able dent the programme. During 2020 Creating with Care has continued to be innovative, facilitating virtual activities and garden concerts, providing creative packs and art carts for each ward and conducted one-to-one sessions to support patients with virtual calls and visits. Staff, too, have been able to access activities to boost morale, increase wellbeing and reduce stress during this time.

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Published: 14 July 2021