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Arts programmes benefit all within health and social care settings – Poots

Health Minister Edwin Poots today launched the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust Arts in Health Strategy, ‘Unfolding Arts in Health 2013 - 2015.’
Wednesday, 16 January 2013

The strategy, developed by the Belfast Trust and Arts Care, is strongly aligned to the strategic objectives of Transforming Your Care in its support for the care of patients and in enhancing community wellbeing through prevention and health promotion, through access to the arts.

Arts Care, founded in 1991, is a unique charity which embraces many aspects of the Arts and seeks to introduce artistic creativity into the heart of healthcare environments. It helps to transform confidence, creative ability and humanity for service users, visitors and healthcare staff. It undertakes this role in partnership with Health and Social Care Trusts throughout Northern Ireland.

Speaking at the launch in Belfast’s Crescent Arts Centre, Health Minister Edwin Poots said: “Making a difference to the lives of all in our society, remains a firm priority for me and the launch of this strategy is another step towards this goal.

“The Arts in Health Strategy in partnership with Arts Care NI has been developed involving staff, patients and artists- in- residence. It promotes engagement through creative arts in a range of settings, such as patients with mental illness, learning difficulties, chronic brain injury and also with older people.

“It can be used to improve communication, reduce stress and provide more stimulating environments for patients and staff alike. It is also known to have health benefits; for example; reducing the need for medication and having fewer health complications.”

The Minister continued: “There is a growing body of evidence of the value of the arts in health and social care and having access to a variety of arts programmes within these settings can be a welcome distraction for all. It can raise morale, provide an element of normality in an unfamiliar setting, and aid the recovery process. And most importantly, it complements the excellent work of our healthcare staff.”

Arts Care presently engages 19 Artists-in-Residence, a team of Northern Ireland Clown/Doctors (professional performers specially trained to work in hospitals along with medical and other staff, hospital play specialists and family members) to create fun, laughter, play, communication, and creativity on the wards.

The Minister added: “This excellent work helps in galvanising community participation, particularly in engaging excluded service users who may be more difficult to reach – whether minority ethnic groups, older people, users of mental health services, or children – in meeting its overall aim to enhance the health and wellbeing for all who come into contact with the HSC.”

A programme of song and dance at the launch of the strategy highlighted the wonderful contribution that the arts make to health and wellbeing.

The Minister concluded: “I would like to congratulate all the performers, Belfast Trust and Arts Care Ltd for raising awareness of the role of the arts and promoting its integration into health and social care services.”

Notes to editors:

1. Arts in Health are arts based activities that aim to improve individual and community well-being, enhance the health care environment and contribute to the quality of healthcare delivery across all services and facilities. It can include various art forms:-

a. Music;

b. Visual;

c. Dance;

d. Drama

e. Photography/film-making; and clowning

2. Funding is allocated to Arts Care Ltd through the Health and Social Care Board.

3. The Public Health Agency has also recently commissioned some specific projects for looked after children and older people.

4. Media enquiries about this press release to the DHSSPS Press Office on 028 9052 0505, or out of office hours contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 07699 715 440 and your call will be returned.