We were recently asked if we've ever considered providing our art and activities to GP practices. Well...we already do! Amisha, our Head of Collection, Loans & Programming, tells us more...

Unlike our name suggests, at Paintings in Hospitals, we provide art and creative activities to a broad range of health and social care providers, including hospices, care homes, healthy living centres, special schools, dental surgeries and mental health facilities. We currently also work with over 30 GP practices throughout England and Wales and we are developing partnerships with another eight practices right now.

As you may already know, our mission is to use art to inspire better health and wellbeing for patients, carers and communities across the country. And we have almost 60 years of accumulated expertise in doing so. Our charity is the healthcare partner of the Arts Council Collection and, in 2015, we co-wrote CQC guidance on art for GP practices.

Family engagement activity at Vassall Medical Centre

A Paintings in Hospitals family engagement activity, inspired by Michael Craig-Martin, at Vassall Medical Centre.

We know that art can help us stay well, aid our recovery from illness and injury, and support us to live longer lives, better lived. We believe everyone should have the chance to benefit from art. That's why we're dedicated to bringing it to them through our artwork loans and art activities. We offer these services to places used by everybody: all types of health and social care.

Our art loan collection is the first and only one of its kind, dedicated to providing comfort and relief, helping patients to better cope with their environment. Our collection contains over 3,700 artworks: paintings, drawings, prints, sculptures, animations and photography from artists of international importance, including Bridget Riley, Antony Gormley, Maggi Hambling, Yinka Shonibare, Helen Chadwick, Anish Kapoor, Elizabeth Blackadder, Josef Albers, Anni Albers, Gillian Ayres, Ben Rivers, Catherine Yass, Alexander Calder, Dame Elisabeth Frink, Ian Davenport and many more.

Art can brighten up spaces, reduce anxiety and stress for patients and provide positive distractions... it is something to be encouraged... Contact Paintings in Hospitals for impartial, free advice on choosing, installing or caring for artworks.

Nigel Sparrow, Senior National GP Advisor, CQC

We work directly with patients and carers to transform clinical environments into something more human. Rather than dictating or prescribing art, we empower patients and carers with the skills and voice to make their own decisions. By working together (co-curation), we can create care spaces that encourage, empower and enrich the lives of everyone. Our co-curation process is an ideal opportunity to engage the wider community, especially Patient Participation Groups.

Older people at Bedminster Family Practice, with artworks by Biddy Bunzl

Red Horizon and Set Pattern 1 by Biddy Bunzl at Bedminster Family Practice. Part of the Paintings in Hospitals collection.

We engage and interact with patients and carers through our art activities. These usually involve a member of our team visiting your practice to work with staff and patients and often includes the selection of a set of artworks to be loaned. These selection activities bring to life the work we do – here is a blog from Ali (our Loans Coordinator for South Wales) describing a recent activity she facilitated. Our activities can take the form of a workshop, an online survey, or an activity pack, depending on what works best for your practice.

Working in partnership with patients and staff puts them at the heart of the decision-making process. Involving them in this way encourages a more meaningful, beneficial relationship with our art. When thoughtfully selected and displayed, artworks from our collection have the power to transform clinical environments into engaging, reassuring and compassionate care spaces.

Success stories

We know, there is an overwhelming amount of evidence demonstrating the profoundly positive contribution of art to the emotional and physical wellbeing of patients, carers and the public, but when you hear first-hand what a difference an art loan from our collection has made, it is amazing. Here are some recent quotes from just a few of the people we support at GP practices:

A staff member at Horfield Health Centre, Bristol, told us:
“I get a feeling of a bright, cared-for surgery. One picture is just outside my door and so I see it all the time. It is beautiful, and over several months, I have grown increasingly fond of it. It cheers me up and soothes me and this must impact on my consultation and my mood.”

A and B by Michael Craig-Martin at Vassall Medical Centre, London.

A member of Patient Participation Group at Shannon Court Surgery, Bedfordshire, said:
“Thank you so much for your input and expertise today and for spending so much time getting to know the demands of Shannon Court Surgery. Your understanding and professionalism made the several hours exhilarating... most impressive and thought-provoking.”

The team at King’s College London NHS Health Centre told us:
“It has been a pleasure to work with Paintings in Hospitals to bring some wonderful art into the Health Centre for patients, visitors and the team to enjoy and contemplate. The installation was professionally planned and implemented with little disruption to the centre. We were privileged to be able to borrow artworks from the extensive Paintings in Hospitals collection. Feedback has shown a positive impact with people saying they find it interesting, soothing and giving the general feeling of a less clinical environment, making them feel more relaxed and less vulnerable when attending appointments.”

For more information about our art for GP practices, contact us now. Alternatively, you can nominate a practice to receive our help via our Nominate a care site page...

This blog was originally published by the Practice Managers Association.