In 2017, the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Arts, Health and Wellbeing published a report titled Creative Health: The Arts for Health and Wellbeing, which gave evidence of the positive impact creative and cultural activities can have on health and wellbeing. The report recommended the need for NHS Trusts to pursue a policy for arts, health and wellbeing and to have a non-executive champion the policy. The programme at Ashford and St Peter’s will be headed by Marcine Waterman, non-executive lead for the Healing Arts Programme and Deputy Chair at the Trust.
The Healing Arts Programme is a national initiative that is part funded by the Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals Charity to provide different forms of art that improve both staff and patient environments, leading to positive experiences and better outcomes for those being cared for or working in those areas. Most people who enter a hospital can feel anxious. Whether they are relatives of a patient, or a patient waiting for treatment, these people are at their most vulnerable. A stark medical environment is unwelcoming and stressful that’s why our hospitals, are committed to the Healing Arts programme which can provide a positive impact on patients and assist on the road to recovery.
The programme was set up at Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals in 2019 and since then we’ve had musicians play on the wards, artwork displayed across the Trust and outdoor areas transformed for staff and patients, but during the COVID pandemic this work had to be paused. One of these projects we participated in was Lullaby Hour, an award winning Music in Hospitals & Care charity project in 2019, which brings calming music into our neonatal wards to help aid sleep and recovery for babies. We received wonderful feedback from both staff and parents who always enjoyed the sessions. The Lullaby Hour sessions is one of many proposed activities that will form part of the wider Healing Arts Programme which aims to bring music, theatre, visual art and improved architecture to the hospital sites, helping to achieve our vision of providing an outstanding experience and the best possible outcomes for patients and staff.
Marcine Waterman, Deputy Chair and Non-Executive on the Healing Arts Programme said: “I am passionate about championing the Healing Arts at ASPH. The arts, in their widest sense have a positive impact on clinical, emotional and social outcomes for our patients and staff. The arts can help to keep us well, aid our recovery and support long lives better lived. We have just started on this journey, but we have ambitious plans to integrate the arts into the delivery of our services and the fabrics of our buildings.”
Charlotte Broughton, Head of Patient Experience and Involvement said: “I am confident that the use of the Healing Arts programme has huge potential to impact positively on our visitors to the Trust. We are delighted to be working closely with the Arts Team at the Lightbox, Woking and Spelthorne Arts Officer, who have agreed to partner with our hospital sites to help us curate the artwork we display, with a focus on collaboration with local artists.”
“We are also at the start of working to create a Time Garden. The garden is intended to be a place of peace, tranquillity, and reflection, away from the busy hospital wards. It is mainly used by terminally ill patients in beds and their families, and will be open day and night. However, the space will also be available for breaking bad news and for staff teams who are reflecting on a difficult day. The project recognises the importance of our environment and the potential for healing, both physical, psychological and spiritual. The space within the hospital has been identified and the project is progressing.”
If you are interested in participating and would like to get involved in our Healing Arts Programme please email
“The effect in sickness of beautiful objects, of variety of objects, and especially of brilliancy of colours is hardly at all appreciated [...] People say the effect is on the mind. It is no such thing. The effect is on the body, too. Little as we know about the way in which we are affected by form, colour, by light, we do know this, that they have a physical effect. Variety of form and brilliancy of colour in the objects presented to patients are actual means of recovery.”
Florence Nightingale, Notes on Nursing, 1859
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