The Use of Art to Improve Health and Healing: A Review

18 Jul The Use of Art to Improve Health and Healing: A Review

Late 2016, The Hon. John Day MLA, Minister for Health; Culture and the Arts have released a research report into the use of arts for health and healing outcomes in Western Australian Hospitals.

Incorporating creative arts such as painting, dance or literary arts is welcomed by consumers visiting the hospital environment and is shown to have a positive impact on the overall hospital experience.

This report analysed the current levels of art activities taking place in WA hospitals and made five recommendations that would ensure its development through committed and coordinated resourcing in the future.

Solaris Cancer Care currently provides a range of creative art therapies including ongoing courses and individual classes. The Foundation actively recognises the positive effect that art has on cancer symptoms. The Art therapies offered range from Singing and Poetry Writing to Art Expression and Painting.  All of these therapies require no skills just a sense of playful inquiry.

Utilising art in health care is proven to improve physical and emotional symptoms associated with cancer and other illnesses. Art therapy is a complementary therapy and appears to improve mood and decrease feelings of anxiety.

The Chamber of Arts and Culture urge the Minister to consider the recommendations as Policy Framework and funding could enhance the health and outcomes in Western Australia.

The report makes five recommendations:

  1. The Departments of Culture and the Arts and Health to develop a joint policy that requires both public and private health service providers to deliver on the Western Australian implementation of the National Arts and Health Framework.
  2. The Departments of Culture and the Arts and Health to advocate that the Percent for Arts Scheme be extended to support an Arts and Health Strategy and Plan as part of the commissioning phase of hospital renovation or new hospital build projects.
  3. Each health service/hospital to have an Arts and Health Plan linked to community engagement and inclusive of local culture and heritage. This should identify internal and external partners (e.g. volunteers, local artists, community groups, schools, TAFEs and universities) who will form a community of practice.
  4. Arts and Health Coordinator roles to be established for each hospital or group of hospitals as determined by the Area Health Service or private provider organisation; generally 0.4-0.6 FTE roles. Part of this role would be to ensure that those working in the Arts and Health arena are appropriately screened, oriented and supported.
  5. The Arts and Health Consortium to be resourced to develop its role as the key Western Australian leadership group that fosters a state-wide community of Arts and Health practice and advises government and private health care providers on such matters.