The Healing Power Of Art In Healthcare

If I asked you to tell me the first thing you thought of when I said health care, you probably
wouldn’t say artwork. And yet, it plays a vital and underrated part in the healing environment of a hospital.

At one stage in history, it was seen as an experimental treatment, however research now shows that artwork can actively aid the health of patients physically and mentally.

KwickScreens at Woolverstone Centre, Ipswich Hospital, Art Consultancy: Willis Newson, Artist: Julia Allum, Photographer: Clint Randall

KwickScreens at Woolverstone Centre, Ipswich Hospital, Art Consultancy: Willis Newson, Artist: Julia Allum, Photographer: Clint Randall

Physical rehabilitation

Having artwork on your walls or as part of your ward design, it can act as a way to significantly improve the physical health of your patients.

Artwork is proven to lower pain within patients and increase how quickly they get better. In 1984, Dr. Roger Ulrich completed ground-breaking research, in which he found that patients with a window required less pain medication and recovered much quicker than those who were not staying in a room with a window.

Since then, research has expanded on this theory and found artwork within a patient’s room has comparable benefits to having a window.

Further research shows that vivid pictures of landscapes, friendly faces and familiar objects can lower blood pressure and heart rate. It also says that appreciating creative and artistic pieces can boost the immune system.

So how can you use this research to improve your ward?

Here at KwickScreen, we can print high quality photographs to use on your ward in place of a hospital curtains or a room partitions. You may not wish to have peoples faces on your KwickScreen partition screen but our catalogue of designs includes many types of landscapes, as well as other designs, so you can pick the design that will best suit your ward.

Mental rehabilitation

There are a few ways in which artwork can help mental rehabilitation, these include depression, anxiety and trauma.

Depression:

Scientists have revealed that when looking at art, dopamine is triggered in the same area of the brain as the part that falls in love, meaning that art biologically makes you happier, and stimulates positive thoughts, proven to deal with feelings of depression.

Claire Tee, an ITU staff nurse from the William Harvey Hospital, told us of a time she noticed the difference one of our KwickScreen hospital screens made to a patient’s mental health, she said “I had a patient who was depressed one night and had just come off the ventilator. I pulled the screen out in front of him and it really brightened his mood. I saw him smile for the first time.”.

KwickScreens at Woolverstone Centre, Ipswich Hospital, Art Consultancy: Willis Newson, Artist: Julia Allum, Photographer: Clint Randall

KwickScreens at Woolverstone Centre, Ipswich Hospital, Art Consultancy: Willis Newson, Artist: Julia Allum, Photographer: Clint Randall

Anxiety:

Looking at artwork is proven to help with reducing anxiety. This is due to the fact that if people feel at ease with a picture they can relate to, they can project their own feelings of anxiety onto them. By doing so, they can release the pressure of nervousness and therefore relax.

What is the best way to use artwork for healing?

1) Not too stimulating

Although artwork can be a good way to reduce stress and anxiety, if it is too stimulating it can have a bad effect on health. Abstract art can sometimes have a negative effect on health as it increases the feelings of anxiety. If you are considering how you can use artwork on your ward, you may want to think about choosing art and images based on the theme of a ward in order to make it consistent and not too visually overpowering.

2) Things people can identify with

Another thing to consider when choosing which images and artwork to use is whether it is something people can identify with. For example, if your hospital was in a very wet and green landscape, it would be harder for your patients to identify with a desert scene, rather they may prefer to see a picture of a wood or a field of flowers. By choosing relatable images, patients can therefore project their own feelings of unease onto it and reduce stress and anxiety.

3) Nature is best

Studies show that nature is the best image for improving health and wellbeing for everyone, including children. Images of green landscapes, water scenes and cultural artefacts have been proven to calm patients. These images help reduce anxiety and depression.

Image of nature on KwickScreen partition screen

Image of nature on KwickScreen partition screen

4) Using artwork as a way to spark conversation

When chosen carefully, a picture can help generate conversations with people who you might not know how to speak to or they might not know how to speak to you.

One way you could use artwork with children is by using a ‘picture search’ piece of art. This
could be an underwater scene where you could play a game to find the fish or the mermaid.
It can also be great for children’s imagination, as it can get quite boring sitting in the same
room all day, so using an interesting photograph could spark their imagination and improve
conversation. If you want to read more about how to use artwork to spark imagination, take
a look at one of our other blog posts.

Art in dementia ward

Art can also help generate conversations on a dementia friendly ward, between staff and patients and also patients and visitors. It can be quite difficult to start a conversation when they don’t know who you are and you’re not sure what they remember, so using imagery and artwork will help improve the patient experience through conversation that doesn’t involve constantly asking if they remember something. If you want to find out more about dementia friendly spaces, our blog post might be able to help.

KwickScreen partition screens used as a backdrop to create a dementia-friendly environment

KwickScreen partition screens used as a backdrop to create a dementia-friendly environment

So if you’re looking to improve your ward design as well as improve your patient experience,
KwickScreen is a great way to incorporate artwork, which can be beneficial to your patients
mental and physical rehabilitation.

Contact us today to find out how we can help you adding art to your healthcare environment.