Thursday, 5 April 2012

Questioning the Current Climate

As the flurry of snow came and went yesterday following the scorching rays of sun last week, many of us have come to question what is actually going on in today’s climate.
Equally, here at Art in Healthcare, we are taking a step back and having a closer look at the ‘climate’ of the arts and health field. We are wondering how many of the remaining artworks in our store we can look at renting out across Scottish healthcare settings and we are questioning whether people truly value the benefits, quite literally, of art in healthcare.
Many of you will have been in a Hospital, Care Home, Hospice or other healthcare setting whether as a patient, resident, visitor or even staff member and I would imagine that most of you will have noticed, if only to a small degree, the general appearance of the place, the decoration, the wall coverings.. Some of the places may have had artworks on the walls, such as posters, paintings or photographs, while other places might just have blank, empty walls with the occasional noticeboard.
Imagine now, if you will, healthcare settings whose walls are adorned with high-quality artworks – a feast for the eyes, visual stimulation; images that remind you of past holidays, good-times and friends; scenes that transport you to a place that is quiet and still. How do you think a patient’s long trip to the operating theatre might be improved by the glimpse of brightly-coloured paintings on the corridor walls around them? What do you think about a Care Home resident surrounded by comforting artworks in the sitting room where they spend most of their waking hours as something to look at, to muse on, to stimulate their mind? What else could cheer up a visitor to a Hospice, waiting nervously to see their relatives, such as a calming artwork on the wall in front of them? Surely this serves to illustrate that art is part of healthcare, that artworks can substantially improve the ‘quality of life’ of viewers?
This is exactly our vision at Art in Healthcare where we seek to ‘improve the environment of Scottish Hospitals and Health Centres so that the quality of life for patients, staff and visitors is improved’. We aim to do this by renting out high-quality contemporary Scottish artworks to healthcare settings so that they may enliven, transform and ‘warm up’ these otherwise often cold and unfriendly places.
In today’s world, the benefits of arts in the health field are widely recognised – for example, the increased role of the Art Therapist in treatment provision, the wide number of mental health charities that are launching creative arts projects and the far-reaching work of Voluntary Arts Scotland who passionately promote the participation of people in arts and crafts for the benefit of their health.
What remains then is for this recognition of the benefits of art in healthcare to be taken further. At a time when the phrase, ‘funding cuts’ is rife and healthcare services are attempting to streamline their services, Art in Healthcare, and anyone out there who follows our cause, need to keep flying our flag and remember that small things, such as artworks, can often make a big difference to a person’s quality of life.
So, the next time you find yourself in a healthcare setting with a blank wall, ask yourself what difference having an artwork would make to the space. What sort of image would you like to see there and how might this then make you feel? Better still, ask a member of staff whether they have considered putting up artworks there and you never know, they might even want to hear about what we have to offer at Art in Healthcare…
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