Number 3 in our countdown of '70 Ways Art Improves Our Health' highlights that art can speed our recovery…

We can all probably agree that spending time in hospital is not fun. None of us actually enjoys the stress and anxiety of a hospital visit. Not to mention the isolation and boredom of waiting, staying and sleeping in stark, sterile spaces.

Of course, clinical spaces must be easy to clean and disinfect, as well as being hardwearing enough to withstand bumps and scrapes from passing people and trolleys. But completely blank walls could be doing more harm than good.

Research has shown that filling care spaces with art can significantly improve our patient experience and outcomes. While hundreds of care sites have started to integrate artworks into their spaces, there are still many more that are completely void of any thoughtful piece of art.

In 1984, the field of Evidence-Based Design began with a study which found that patients whose hospital rooms had a window needed less pain medication and recovered faster than those in rooms without windows. And, since then, numerous studies have shown that artwork in patient spaces offer similar benefits in promoting healing and increasing wellbeing.

If an art installation gets a patient out of his room or paintings take a person's mind off their pain and lower their stress levels, the art isn't just decorative anymore.

Dr Lisa Harris, Indiana University School of Medicine

In 2003, a seminal study was published by Dr Rosalia Staricoff at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital. The study found that the length of stay of patients on a trauma and orthopaedic ward was one day shorter when they experienced visual arts and music interventions. Think of the potential savings for the health service!

These findings confirmed what we already knew. As we’ve explored in this countdown, art has always had a major role to play in our health. But the post-war period of brutal minimalism removed much art from our hospitals and public care spaces. Paintings in Hospitals officially began in 1959 and since then we have strived to restore this art to the care spaces in which it can make the most difference.

Introducing art into the care environment doesn’t have to be as difficult or expensive as many people think (or are told) it is. At Paintings in Hospitals, we have nearly six decades of experience in this field: we know what works and we’re happy to provide advice, as seen here on the CQC website.

As a charity, we raise funds to subsidise the costs of displaying art in any type of health and social care site. We also ensure that all of our artworks are suitable for the environments in which they are to be displayed. We frame our artworks in 3-6 mm shatterproof Perspex, protecting the art and making it easier to keep clean. And we fully insure our artworks, so care sites don’t have to.

If you’re a care professional who would like to find out more about getting art for your care site, head here. If you’re a patient of a care site that you think needs more art, let us know here. There's really no excuse for blank walls.

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