Craft“If people made more sense of their health and illnesses, they might be less inclined to turn to health services, and live with the condition better rather than simply trying to get rid of it.
The shared meanings possible in community arts practice may be the basis of a common pursuit of preventative health as a viable complement – if not alternative – to … reductionist lifestyle interventions.”

Regional director of a public health board,

quoted in 
’Arts development in community health‘ by Mike White

Why recommend a creative activity?

For someone affected by a long-term health condition, getting involved in a creative activity can provide more than just pleasure. There’s a wide range of research that demonstrates that it can be a means of managing or improving symptoms – and it can also have a profound impact on a person’s wider wellbeing and lifestyle. See the ‘Conditions‘ sections for research evidence, stories and other information.

More controversially, creative activities can reduce health sector costs – by helping people to manage their conditions and keep themselves well, happy, and actively involved in society,and in some cases reducing GP visits and use of health services.

What are the benefits?

Statements from the Department of Health agree that there’s a substantial body of evidence to show the benefits of participation in the arts and creative activities. They can help people:
* feel better about themselves and their situation
* feel less isolated, and more connected with other people and the outside world
* gain a sense of purpose and meaning
* improve their physical fitness, sensory awareness and physical dexterity
* develop new skills and interests
* improve their self-confidence and self-esteem
* feel happier and more positive
and also even:
* reduce the number of visits they make to the GP or outpatients’ clinic
* take less medication  and reduce or even stop other more traditional and costly methods of support.

What’s available to your patients?

There are hundreds of targeted ‘arts in health’ projects and initiatives across the UK. These are usually partnerships between arts and health organisations, which offer creative activities as a means of improving health and wellbeing. See www.cultureandwellbeing.org.uk for a searchable database of research, practical advice and contacts covering all aspects of arts in health.

However, there are many thousands of arts and crafts groups and activities across the UK (there are 49,140 voluntary arts/crafts groups in England alone, ranging from choirs to craft clubs to dance groups). These are groups which individuals with long-term conditions could access to improve their health and quality of life.

Most of these groups are self-sustaining and require no financial contribution from the health sector. And while they can’t replace targeted arts in health and therapeutic interventions – they could provide an alternative, or even a sustainable ‘next step’ for patients.

What you can do next – visit the ‘Next steps‘ page.

Photo courtesy of Darlington Openart Studio.





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