OHAP commission a number of artists in residence who work around the Trust.  Their role is to deliver creative experiences for patients across Oxford Health’s inpatient services. They have different specialities including those who paint and draw as well as those that specialise in movement and dance.

This programme is facilitated by OHAP and funded through Oxford Health Charity.


What do arts projects aim to achieve?

Art for health and wellbeing projects seek to contribute to the mental and social wellbeing of those taking part. Outcomes can be personal, such as enhanced expression and the ability to communicate, physiological, such as a reduction in stress hormones, or artistic, such as learning a skill.

Broader outcomes and impacts include organisational change, such as developing new practice, and social impacts, such as influencing policy.

Internal Oxford Health evaluation of an arts programme

A small internal evaluation of an arts programme was carried out using a mood scale ranked from one to ten (with ten being extremely happy and contented) revealed that 48% patients reported an increase in mood after attending an arts session.

An independent evaluation of an Artists in Residence programme

The Creating With Care (CWC) Artist in Residence pilot project took place between June and December 2021 during the first COVID lockdown.

Background and top line results from the evaluation
Six artists of varying disciplines were engaged to work across the six community hospitals in Witney, Bicester, Didcot, City, Wallingford and Abingdon Community Hospitals with the aim of enhancing the patient and carer experience through a variety of artistic activities.

On offer for the patients were opportunities to sample movement and dance; painting, ink work, poetry and collage.

Top line results:

There was a very clear message, from all participants, staff and artists that this project was universally beneficial, that it was valued and welcome and that it had clear fiscal and health benefits to the service providers, commissioners and clients.

One of the Senior Matrons called the Creating with Care programme ‘Therapeutic Joy’ as she could see significant changes in those who took part as they recognised the ‘joy of possibility’. By the end of the session she could see a clearly visible difference in the participants. “They are different people by the end of the session” she said.

Six artists of varying disciplines were engaged to work across the six community hospitals in Witney, Bicester, Didcot, City, Wallingford and Abingdon Community Hospitals with the aim of enhancing the patient and carer experience through a variety of artistic activities.

On offer for the patients were opportunities to sample movement and dance; painting, inkwork, poetry and collage.

The baseline – the effect of being in hospital on a patient’s wellbeing

Patients who spend prolonged periods of time in hospital report feelings of:

  • Isolation
  • Boredom
  • Disconnectedness
  • Anxiety
  • Lethargy

These emotions impact on stress levels which can hamper the patient’s recovery. Therefore having happier, hopeful and engaged patients helps them to get better and go home, quicker.

Key findings

For patients

For patients there was:

Reduction in Isolation and boredom, creating enjoyment and pleasure– a recurrent and consistent theme

“It was really positive for the patients to be working together. This allowed them to support, encourage and appreciate each other. At regular intervals they showed each other their work and praised each other’s work. They were also able to enjoy conversation together about their particular creative project and their lives.” Artist feedback

Reduction in anxiety and lethargy, giving a positive sense of wellbeing

“I do physiotherapy but it’s not so interesting – music and exercise makes you feel GOOD!” Patient feedback

Substitute for a sense of a more normal life and behaviours; providing a hope or anticipation of return to home and health

“It brightens my day otherwise I’d just be sitting here watching TV. I want to go home now and continue my recovery with music and dance.” Patient feedback

Reduction in use of painkillers

“You can see that they forget their pain, they are taking fewer painkillers and that is good – they are feeling less pain because they are less anxious and more engaged.” Occupational Therapy Ward Staff.

Connection to childhood and reflection on their past experiences

“It was just lovely to see how the music and a bit of movement brought smiles to the patients faces. It was particularly moving to see the nearly 100 year old (patient ‘S’) to have sparks in her eyes and sing along and starting to remember all the songs from her past and become so much more coherent in her communication.” Artist feedback.

For hospital staff

Altruism and transferred joy. We see clearly that when patients are happy, staff are much happier in their duties

“The mood of the whole ward changes when the artists are here, people gather and take part. The resources are well spent, it brings pleasure and joy to everyone!” Senior Matron.

Better Clinical Outcomes

The creative activities directly support the work of specialist clinicians such as physiotherapists and improves therapeutic outcomes.

“For me as a therapist I get them to walk up to the sessions, to talk about things, to do something different. They’re sitting up more, breathing better, sitting forwards and not slumped, their motor skills and dexterity are improving. Each artist brings something different – I’ve heard life stories and I’ve got to know more about them they have something to take home to remind them of the good moments in hospital.’ Occupational Therapist Ward Staff

Holistic and spiritual care

Ward staff appreciate the individuality of patients through their conversations and artwork.

“It was particularly lovely to see a male patient who wasn’t doing any movement during my first visit, and whose daughter told me he doesn’t dance, now joining the group sessions and really going for it and even suggesting dance moves for us all to do!” Artist feedback

Improved working environment and atmosphere, positive feedback from patients

“A patient did a thank you drawing for the staff to go on their notice board. This act of thanks and kindness was great to see and also empowered the patient.” Artist

Patients continue their own artistic journey after discharge

Patients and service users often find a new or rediscovered interest in creative activities through the programme, that they go on to engage with after discharge.

“This has rekindled my interest in making models. It’s nice to know someone’s taking in an interest in me, you’ve shown me what’s more available to me now.” Patient feedback

“Several patients told me they will continue with painting on return home. One said he was going to take it up, and the other said he was going to dig out all his materials and start painting again. It is wonderful to hear this, as it means there is a legacy to what I have been doing” Artist feedback

“The patient I had given the art materials to a week before had done some great drawings in the week between sessions. I got great feedback from a relative about the work and they asked for ideas on how to continue doing similar work with her mother when she got her home.” Artist feedback

“One patient is particularly pleased with her progress, telling me that in her family her sister had always been labelled the artist, so she had been too discouraged to try any kind of creative work. She told me she would definitely be carrying on with what she has started in hospital once she returns home.” Artist feedback[/nhsuk_expander]

A three-month exploration of patient stories and staff superpowers

Patient feedback from an Artists-in-Residence project:

“Tom’s visits make me feel happy, I look at the drawings all week and they help me remember.”

“It’s marvellous. It opens your eyes to something new, it’s a stimulant, he teaches about colour, it’s so positive.”

Feedback from staff:

“Our patients have loved this project as they like the engagement.  Staff are so busy, but we love to see them participating and that they can revisit their memories.”

“[The artwork] helps when they have visitors, it’s a real conversation starter and gives them something to talk about. Some give the drawings to their relatives as a gift.

How do you rate this page?

Thank you for your feedback

Follow us on social media to stay up to date

We are sorry you did not find this page helpful

Tell us how we can improve this page

Page last reviewed: 6 March, 2023