Rachael Dinnage, Creative Arts Coordinator at Central & Cecil Housing Trust, tells us all about the experience and impact of working with Paintings in Hospitals...

Central & Cecil Housing Trust (C&C) is a not-for-profit provider of housing for the over 55s in London. We offer a range of accommodation including sheltered housing, nursing homes and specialist dementia care homes.

Although it is common for housing associations to offer activities for their residents, we provide a special focus on the arts and the benefits these can bring to later life. We have seen first-hand the positive impact the arts can have on improving health, wellbeing and community spirit.

We offer our residents an ever-evolving programme of creative activities and events, and are always looking to work with arts organisations to expand this. When an email from Paintings in Hospitals appeared in our inbox offering us a grant-funded loan of artwork, we jumped at the chance.

Residents on a Paintings in Hospitals ArtWalk at Blackham House.

The process of setting up the loan was simple and Paintings in Hospitals Loans Coordinators did everything they could to engage as many of our residents as possible in the art selection process. We were offered loans at three locations in Merton, Blackham House (Sheltered Housing), Link House (Care Home) and Woodlands Day Centre.

The Paintings in Hospitals team began by setting up meetings with staff at each location to check the selection process was appropriate for our residents. Link House was the first to select their artworks. As many of our residents at Link House are living with dementia, it was decided that colour would be a useful way-finding tool. Following the meeting, a long-list of artworks was drawn up and selection packs were sent out. An accessible, large format followed to ensure everyone had the opportunity to participate and share their views. It was then only a short wait before the artworks were installed.

Tracey Morgan, Link House Deputy manager commented:

Our residents have been drawn to images with bright, striking colours. The artwork has really enlivened the building. One resident is particularly proud to show visitors the painting that hangs opposite her door. Having such beautiful, high-quality artwork in our schemes provides individuality, creativity and stimulation for the eye and mind. It makes the building a nicer place to live and work in.

A similar process was followed for Blackham House and Woodlands House, tailoring the selection packs and format following input from residents and staff.

A few months after the artwork had been installed, we held an ArtWalk at Blackham House. Residents were invited to join the Paintings in Hospitals Loans Coordinator, and a volunteer on a tour around the building to find out more about the new artwork.

Residents on a Paintings in Hospitals ArtWalk at Blackham House.

The tours were really well received. Having the chance to learn about the context of the work and the artists behind them sparked lively discussion and gave everyone a new insight. One resident who attended from a neighbouring Sheltered Housing scheme has since joined the art group at Blackham House. The chance to contribute to a creative discussion with other group members was a great introduction and he has been attending the class for over a year now.

We also invited residents from our Creative Writing group to join the ArtWalk. They thoroughly enjoyed the experience and wrote a series of pieces in response to the artworks and the tour.

A glimpse into the magic of art. On my last visit to Blackham House, I follow the crowd along the narrow corridors. Paintings hang on the walls. The crowd looks on, what is it that they search for. What do we see in the colour that stares back at us with images of the world in which we live.

Visit to Blackham House by Steve. A resident’s response to the Paintings in Hospitals ArtWalk

The loans will stay at our sites until November 2019. For others working in a health and social care setting, I would thoroughly recommend taking out an art loan. The artwork will brighten and personalise your environment, and the selection process empowers everyone involved.

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Celebrating 60 years of Paintings in Hospitals in 2019

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