A Wrexham Glyndŵr University researcher is working with a health board to increase training provision for fellow artists who are using their talents to help patients across North Wales.
Anthony Jackson, a PhD candidate at Glyndŵr, is developing training for artists who work in healthcare in partnership with Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board.
While the benefits of using art in healthcare have been an ever-growing field of study in the last 40 years, how artists approach their practice has not seen the same level of research.
“My research is around the practice of artists who want to work in healthcare. It can be any discipline within the arts, not just the visual arts,” he said.
“There’s loads of really good research happening around the benefit of the art to the participant, but what I’ve found is that the artists’ practice itself – how do they do what they do and why do they do it – is rather under-researched, so that’s what I’m specifically looking at.”
Anthony, 26, from Gwersyllt, was an activity co-ordinator at Wrexham Maelor Hospital before starting his undergraduate studies at Glyndŵr. He is now studying for a PhD at the university, focusing on arts in health.
He has interviewed eight artists across North Wales, who are providing complementary services in a variety of sectors including children who need extra support, people with early onset memory loss, stroke and rehab wards, dementia care and singing for both physical and mental wellbeing.
“As many health deficits that you can think of, there will be an artist who can work in that setting, so it’s very broad,” he said.
Anthony also spent six months shadowing an artist at Theatr Clwyd in Mold and will conduct two art projects with patients at Wrexham Maelor Hospital. The project is set to be completed by February 2021.
“I’m interested in why they do it, what is effective in practice, what are the things to avoid and what creative process do they go through to try to take the person from A to B – and what A and B are for that person, what does success look like for that artist?” he said.
“These are really big questions where I don’t think there is a really succinct answer at the moment. Those are the questions that I ask when I go into a healthcare setting.”
BCUHB delivers several creative therapeutic projects including Singing for the Soul for people with low mood/ anxiety; Arts from the Armchair, a theatre skills project for people with mild cognitive impairment/ early onset dementia); Singing for Lung Health, for people living with COPD and other chronic lung conditions; and Arts Together, delivered in partnership with Denbighshire County Council Arts Service, which offers education and counselling services for families at risk.
Andrea Davies, BCUHB’s Arts in Health and Wellbeing Co-ordinator, said: “BCUHB Arts in Health and wellbeing Programme is pleased to be developing this research project in partnership with Glyndwr University, financially supported by the Arts Council of Wales.
“Quality, standards and good governance are important to our health board and moving forward, it`s essential we ensure our practising artists are supported and equipped to deliver workshops to our most vulnerable patients and communities.
“Although our current professional artists are experienced and skilled at working in this field, we wish to develop this additional specialised training in order for emerging creative facilitators to learn the most effective tools of the trade.
“Social prescribing and arts on prescription models are becoming increasingly popular and in order to deliver the highest possible standards, it’s vital we look to a future of offering practical and effective standardised training to artists who wish to work within health and wellbeing."