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Team Imagineers have been working closely with CREATE (Collaborative Rehabilitation Environments in Acute Stroke, a study concerned with improving rehabilitation in Stroke Units across the country) and St Helier Hospital's Acute Stroke Unit. CREATE have led Experience-based Co-Design Groups and Team Imagineers are involved with the Space and Activities Groups. The groups have highlighted and then put into action the best way forward to improve ASU.

"It is essential that stroke services find new ways to provide opportunities to increase patient rehabilitation activity, national recommendations for the amount and frequency of therapy are not being met and patients spend most of the day inactive." (CREATE Study).

We are still in the process of applying for funding to run arts activities and create a mural with the patients, families, volunteers and staff. In the interim we have co-ordinated the provision of artworks to enliven the ward, spontaneous exclamations of, "How lovely!" "This is so refreshing!" "I am so happy to see this!" "The paintings just make you feel better!" have been heard throughout the ward from staff, patients and families. On art in the wards generally, we have received this comment: "This summer I have spent quite a lot of time in St. Helier as my husband has been unwell, and I noticed lovely paintings in various departments, they lift the spirits & focus the mind on something positive!"

Paintings, photography and prints have been donated by South London artists, mainly from Sutton, to brighten up St Helier Hospital's Acute Stroke Unit. Until we got to work the ward had been described by staff, patients and families as depressing, dilapidated and dismal. Redecoration is still in progress. We refer to research that proves the strong influence environments have on recovery rates, as long ago as 2008 then Secretary of State Alan Johnson MP stated, "It’s well-documented that those hospitals and other care settings that pay close attention to the overall physical environment for patients (preferably by listening to what patients and staff say would make things better) achieve real improvements in the health of patients.

Just as it’s recognised that in schools, cramped corridors and dingy classrooms that are freezing in winter and roasting in summer are hardly conducive to good behaviour and motivation, so we also need to recognise that the hospital environment can impact upon patient health.

A study by the University of Nottingham showed that patients on the new cardiac ward at Leeds General Infirmary were on average discharged three days earlier, needed significantly less medication and rated their care as better than those who were treated on the old ward. Patients on the trauma and orthopaedic wards of the Chelsea and Westminster hospital who were exposed to music and the visual arts were able to go home one day earlier and needed less pain relief than other patients."

The All Party Parliamentary Group report on Creative Health and Wellbeing, 2017, states that: “Arts engagement is a form of environmental enrichment that contributes to better health and has a significant part to play in improving physical and mental health and wellbeing and has a role in reducing anxiety, depression and stress.” A social return of between £4 and £11 has been calculated for every £1 invested in arts on prescription! Participatory arts programmes showed that 79% of people from deprived communities ate more healthily, 77% engaged in more physical activity and 82% enjoyed greater wellbeing.

Then Secretary of State, Alan Johnson in 2007 said that the arts are "not some kind of add-on, they should be mainstream in both health and social care." We hope that one day the NHS will include the arts as an essential part of health provision

Some of the work:

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