"The importance of arts in health care"

About: Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust / Adult mental health (inpatient)

(as the patient),

It might not be anything that any professional staff would be in the least bit concerned about, but I seek to draw wider attention to an issue which deeply troubles me.

It relates to an agenda which is becoming prevalent at Healthcare trusts, an agenda which is actively hostile to the very prominent and effective role which art and creativity has hitherto played in the lives of people who seek to make progress, restitution and an eventual recovery of their skills which have fallen into disuse as a result of incapacitating, severe mental ill-health and which needs the multi-disciplinary approach of skilled practitioners working therapeutically and remedially with patients to restore these lost abilities and re-engage with their talents in art, music, writing and related media engagement of a therapeutic nature.

Our chief executive makes great play of scientific finesse which does the professionals engaged in healthcare credit. But it is deeply unhelpful to devalue the contributions made by the applied talents and human skills of artists, whose gifts do not lie in laboratories but in more natural living settings, bringing genuine progress and lifting the spirits of a demoralised and besieged patient clientele.

I evidence my concern on recent developments which over the last five years have seen the Broad Street centre broken up and dissolved, leaving a dismantled community of therapy delivery which took many years to assemble, without a base for creative activity, rendering the relic of this which was the Social Inclusion and Well-being service non-functional and now under attack as many practitioners are now discarded and made redundant from giving service to their clients. While the out-come for this service is shameful, I believe it is the thinking behind under-valuing what the Arts can bring as a contribution to improving health as a vehicle for recovery which is greatly at fault.

I would urge the people who have such uninformed power over us to reconsider their actions before any further decimation of these services is brought to bear. We are individuals with individual talents and fortunately, we are not all the same. So the diversity of the services is vital to meet diverse needs and essential for many people who now feel under siege.

I hope that by bringing this to your attention we can foster a greater regard for all the hands which have manned the pumps of progress in mental healthcare.

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Response from Jane Danforth, Involvement Team , Involvement & Experience, Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust

picture of Jane Danforth

Thank you for your feedback which we appreciate. I am so sorry for the delay in responding

I have sent your posting to the managers of the service to reply to you fully as you have raised several issues.

I am very sorry you feel that managers would not be concerned.

Please bear with us whilst we take the time to respond to you.

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Update posted by Rambuie (the patient)

Thank you Jane. I look forward to a constructive response.

Response from Involvement Team , Involvement & Experience, Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust

Dear Rambuie

You will have seen previous postings about our Wellbeing and Social Inclusion Service. We do not disagree with you that the arts can contribute to improving health. In the current economic climate however, we have had to make some difficult decisions in relation to our cost improvement programme and some services have had to be changed. We are supporting the Nottingham Focus on Well-being group to develop an Arts provision in the community - which I can put you in touch with. Nottingham Focus on Wellbeing can be contacted at nottingham-focus-on-wellbeing@live.co.uk

I hope you can get in touch and this will give you some more options.

Best Wishes.

Jane Marlow

Service Manager

Update posted by Rambuie (the patient)

Greetings, Jane.

Having drawn a number of short straws regarding genuine support for artistic pursuits and coming from a direction with experience which focuses on continuing ill-health, I might struggle to communicate from cold, with people whose ethos is to look after the 'well'.

However we are not incapable of taking some initiatives, so where the door of an ongoing opportunity to submit pictures and publicly show-case creativity has been closed to us, I have been clearing a threshold to open on a fresh opportunity from the grass-roots via lottery funding in the independent sector and in partnership with volunteers. T

his is still in its formative stages, because you will appreciate, the whims and partialities of the powers that be are a law to themselves - and others are not privy to them until after the fact - so there is a time-lapse before we can step in and remediate where it is most needed.

What I can say is that the people most strongly convinced of the value of Arts and Health agendas are voting with our feet and seeing to it that what we need does continue to happen. The real regret is that we have to chase up these resources, when there is no funding for us ourselves to pursue our strengths and see to it that we are meaningfully occupied to everyone's best advantage.

So with the courage of my convictions, some of this agenda will continue to happen, but never on the scale to meet the needs of a clientele of 10,000 in the County and 3,000 in the City - and that is only for the people with my diagnosis!

Much is lost, but all is not lost, then.

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