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Arts & Health in the UK: A National Overview

Watch Lord Howarth and Arti Prashar (Spare Tyre) discuss the wider implications of incorporating arts-based practices into the general care of the UK.
The report ‘Creative Health’ was the report arising from the inquiry that the All Party Parliamentary Group on Arts, Health, and Wellbeing conducted over two years in 2015 to 2017. We launched the report in July of 2017. It’s a major survey of the state of arts practice in relation to health and well-being in this country. And it draws together a large body of evidence on an unprecedented scale to demonstrate the efficacy of the art in relation to health and well-being. The professional formation and the continuing professional development of members of the medical profession is heavily science-based. And that’s fine, because the achievements of science-based modern medicine are prodigious and totally welcome.
But I think many people in this professional world don’t think about the arts as something relevant to their professional lives, don’t see that the arts can help them with their professional commitments and their agendas, when in fact they can. It’s the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work, and enter old age and pass their old age which determine their health very powerfully. So we need to build a healthy and a health-creating society. We need to build strongly supportive communities in which people stay well. And among the key messages from our report Creative Health is that the arts can help us to stay well, to recover better, to have longer lives, better lived.
The arts can help with major challenges facing health and social care, long-term conditions, loneliness, mental health. And the arts can save significant sums of money for the health and social care systems. Let me give you an example, in Gloucestershire. Gloucestershire was one of the areas where the Cultural Commissioning programme, funded by the Arts Council and delivered by the National Council for Voluntary Organisations ran one of its pilot schemes. At the same time, there was a very experienced general practitioner there called Doctor Simon Opher, who, for decades past, has had among his team in his practice an artist. It might be a potter. It might be a painter. It might be someone working with poetry or dance.
But he always has, on the premises, as part of the team to support patients, an artist. And he has produced evidence that his patients who have been referred to an artist rather than prescribed, say, antidepressants, taken over time, are making 37% less demands for visits to their GP and 27% less hospital admissions. I would love to see an artist in residence, for instance, in every care home or in every health department in every hospital.
And I think if some of the budgets that are given over to pharmaceuticals and pharmacies, even half a percent of that budget was given over to a creative budget, I think you would see an incredible impact on not just people living with dementia but the staff as well, because I think well-being is really important in the social care sector and in the health care sector.

Watch Lord Howarth of Newport (All Party Parliamentary Group on Arts, Health and Wellbeing) and Arti Prashar (Spare Tyre) discuss the wider implications of incorporating arts-based practices into the general care of the UK population for the purposes of health of well-being, demonstrating the national benefits that do and could arise.

You will be introduced to the unprecedented UK inquiry and subsequent report ‘Creative Health: The Arts for Health and Wellbeing’ carried out by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Arts, Health and Wellbeing between 2015 – 2017. In this final video of the week you will also hear how the arts can be incorporated into general medical practice to deliver a multitude of social benefits, and hear thoughts on how incorporating resident artists into care homes and health departments could benefit the UK population.

Do any of the recommendations or findings discussed in these interviews surprise you? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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Dementia and the Arts: Sharing Practice, Developing Understanding and Enhancing Lives

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