The benefits of arts in healthcare

Changes are taking place in clinical practice and healthcare. There is a growing realisation the technological developments we’ve seen in the last fifty years need to be complemented and supplemented by other interventions.

Music can play an important part in healthcare which goes beyond music therapy focused on certain carefully defined groups, such as people with a learning disability. The part that music can play, for both the people we call patients and staff, is being increasingly evaluated and appreciated, and there are now significant groups using music, for example, working with people who have dementia. Music is also presented through dance, which has been shown to have many benefits, most studied in people with Parkinson’s Disease. Music and movement is now widely used in activity therapy for older people with multiple conditions in care homes and for younger people with long-term conditions.

The visual arts too play an important part in helping individuals adapt to and learn about their condition. Hospitals and health centres are also appreciating that their appearance can either be part of the healing process or part of the process that increases the stress, and the visual arts can reduce that stress.

Medical humanities and literature are also entering mainstream medicine, and healthcare and educators now recognise the fact that young people with an interest in healthcare professions are forced away from humanities and into sciences from the early years of secondary education.

Dr Lisa Wong and Dr Iva Fattorini have both played a key part in developing arts in healthcare in the United States. This workshop will discuss the implication of their ideas and work for the NHS, the medical school in Oxford, the clinical schools at Oxford Brookes University and Green Templeton College.

Please email if you like to attend or would like to nominate someone from your organisation or department to attend.