Fresh Arts on Referral Evaluation: Summary Document

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Willis Newson

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Willis Newson

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Fresh Arts on Referral was developed and managed by Fresh Arts, the arts programme managed by North Bristol NHS Trust, in collaboration with arts and healthcare consultants Willis Newson. It was funded by North Bristol NHS Trust and Southmead Hospital Charity, Macmillan Cancer Support and Arts Council England.

Fresh Arts on Referral is a pilot “Arts on Prescription” programme. It is part of the Social Prescribing model and aims to support patients with chronic conditions better manage their own self-care, a recognised national priority for the NHS.

The pilot study, involving 65 Cancer, Chronic Pain and Dementia patients, took place at Southmead Hospital, Bristol between March-July 2018. Patients were offered a range of activities tailored to their needs: creative writing activities (patients with Cancer); visual arts-based activities (patients with Dementia) and a range of artforms, including crafting (patients with Chronic Pain).

During the delivery of the Fresh Arts on Referral programme, participants wellbeing improved from 41.62 at the start to 47.2 at the end as measured using the Warwick Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale. The most significant improvements in wellbeing were seen among Chronic Pain and Cancer patients. While wellbeing did not improve overall among the Dementia patients and their carers, this group saw an increase in high wellbeing.

The evaluation found that, through access to high-quality, enjoyable creative activity in a safe group setting, patients were able to share with others in a similar situation to their own, experience increased connection, freedom from judgement, a sense of release, and increased confidence and self-esteem. This led to patients reconnecting with themselves and recognising and valuing their individual skills and resources, often experiencing a shift in perspective leading to increased self-care alongside renewed agency and energy to make changes in their lives.

Southmead Hospital Charity has since committed to fund the programme for one more year 2019-20, with Chronic Pain and Cancer patients, as well as with one new department.

Evidence Type: Qualitative Research

Main Focus: Wellbeing / Quality of life

Research Purpose: Outcome Evaluation

Context: Hospital

Participant Group: Specific Physical Health Condition

Art Forms: Multi-Arts

Access Type: Free Download

APA Citation:

Willis Newson (2019). Fresh Arts on Referral Evaluation: Summary Document. Bristol: Willis Newson