Can making art help you sleep better and make you feel more content whilst in hospital?

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Late 2021, artist Hailey Beavis began a series of art making workshops at the Western General Hospital. The workshops are supported by Senior Charge Nurse Carol Paterson and form part of programme in the Meaningful Activity Centre.

The small, intimate group, allowed Hailey to work with individuals and tune in to how they were doing, how they like to work, and how best to work with them.

The first session got off to a bright start, with sunshine pouring through the windows, creating a warm and welcoming feeling, more akin to a social club than a hospital meeting room. Using music played through a small speaker, with songs requested by the patients, Hailey created a relaxed atmosphere which got the group interacting.

Art materials including coloured card, old memorabilia and postcard were laid on a table, with percussive instruments for those who found it harder to engage with the art activities. Patients’ confidence grew throughout the session with painting, mark making, chatting, singing, dancing and drumming.

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As sessions continue into 2022 they have retained the same organic feeling and versatility of materials, with sensory still life sessions including scented foliage such as rosemary, and activities using high contrast materials – white on black – for participants with visual impairments.

Staff have commented that patients have been looking forward to the workshops, talking about them beforehand and this can be seen in the sessions themselves with participants bringing along extra materials, progressing their work, breaking out of their routines, and opening up – cracking jokes and reminiscing – and apparently sleeping better.

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