The Arts in Health Program helps to make spaces less clinical, age appropriate and provide a more relaxing environment...

Art and Health - healing together

05 Aug 2021

HEADER IMAGE: "Traversing the Interior", University of Canberra Public Hospital, ACT, 2018, by Holly Grace

Impressive national and international research repeatedly demonstrates that access to the arts makes a significant contribution to health outcomes. As a result, art programs in hospitals are becoming standard practice.

The documented positive impact of art in hospitals includes reductions in anxiety and fear, temporary relief from pain, higher staff satisfaction, and a better connection with the local community.

Canberra Health Services recognises evidence based research into the therapeutic value of art in the hospital environment and such documents as the National Arts and Health Policy Framework, 2013, which affirms that

"Attention to the arts and good design can make the difference between health environments and buildings that work and those that excel."

Our community feels the same. The ACT community has consistently worked to see art in the hospital. The Arts in Health Program merely formalises this international, national and community expectation, shaping it to meet the considered needs of individual wards.

The key findings of a recent survey of 300 patients, visitors/carers and staff members and twelve follow-up interviews showed that approximately 90% of those surveyed noticed and liked the art at Canberra Health Services and a similar proportion also wanted more art in the hospital.

The Arts and Health program has a strong policy framework that covers all art in Canberra Health Services but this is only the starting point. For each project the Curator of Arts in Health develops a clear understanding of the needs of the individual ward and its community, before proposing work for acquisition to the Arts in Health Committee.

IMAGE: Chaos at the Sky Regatta by Paul Summerfield. Dispayed in the Adolescent Ward at Cententary Hospital for Women, Youth and Children

IMAGE: Canberra: our garden city, 2014. Digital print on vinyl film. Foyer Artwork donated by Mrs. Liangis. Artwork by Commissioned Artist Annie Trevillian.

"The artwork is really beautiful and provides a really special touch. The staff there acknowledge that even though the children are really unwell, the beautiful environment helps them to relax more, and helps fade out some of the scariness of beeps and monitors in a high care setting. That's the special touch of the Foundation." Angie Drake, Director Strategy & Communications, Canberra Health Services