The arts and health: artists on the wards

4 Oct 2007

If artists in medical settings can reduce the use of sedating medications, is it then impossible to believe that expenditures in the arts may mean a savings in healthcare?

This report, based on a presentation by Susan Pointe, art advisor for the Friends of University Hospitals, summarizes the arts program at University of Alberta Hospitals (Edmonton, Canada). Through the artists-on-the-wards program, artists help adult acute-care patients and their caregivers talk about and create art, including music, visual arts, crafts and writing. The program employs five local professional artists on a part-time basis. These artists train and supervise 30 volunteer artists. The presentation notes that 'art at the bedside' has helped bring a sense of calm, peace, joy and humour to settings that can be boring, lonely, anxiety-ridden and painful. Feedback from both the medical staff and patients has been very positive.

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