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First in Wales Arts and Health Charter launched by Hywel Dda UHB

21 May 2024


Hywel Dda University Health Board has officially launched its Arts and Health Charter, a promise to the public to integrate arts into the work of the health board.

The Charter is a first in Wales, if not the UK, and will be delivered through a set of eight Arts and Health principles and pledges, making it an integral part of how we deliver health and wellbeing services.

Eleanor Marks, Vice Chair of Hywel Dda University Health Board and Chair of the health board’s Arts and Health group, said: “Our Arts and Health Charter has been built on the growing evidence that the arts have a key role to play in preventing ill-health, improving wellbeing, treating ill health, helping people live well with illness, promoting healing and recovery and encouraging healthy behaviours.

“Co-created in partnership with health and arts professionals, patients, communities, and staff, we are proud to be the first NHS organisation in Wales to ensure the arts are integrated into the strategic objectives of the health board.”

During an online celebration launch held as part of UK Creativity and Wellbeing Week, patients and staff came together to share their experience of, and their hopes for the arts in health services across Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire.

Guests were greeted with live music being played for patients and staff our new acute frailty ward at Withybush Hospital, by Music in Hospitals and Care.

Patient Lyn Mura, who is currently receiving treatment in Bronglais’s Cancer Treatment Unit, shared how integrating art into the patient environment can provide a welcome distraction: “When you’re sitting for up to six hours in a chair, the difference is going to be very tangible.

“To have artwork in the patient environment, there is something about it that pulls you in and takes your mind somewhere else. Art can calm and occupy you in a moment in time where you’re just fearful of what’s next.”

Services who have already seen the benefits of integrating the arts into the care of their patients also shared their experiences.

Senior Nurse in Medicine, Sarah Williams and Junior Sister Donna Major, shared how Friday afternoons in Glangwili Hospital are filled with pottery, silk painting and pom pom making for patients with dementia with artists from Arts Care Gofal Celf.

Lara Schmidt, Occupational Therapist at St Nons, Withybush Hospital shared how her patients are benefitting from singing and music provided by Forget Me Not Chorus. She told of how her patients appear a lot less distressed and how lovely it has been to see her patients smile and be more relaxed.  

Guests were also able to stay for an additional Singing and Breathing session delivered by the Welsh National Opera’s vocal specialist and mezzo-soprano Jenny Pearson. The Welsh National Opera have been leading these sessions across Wales, improving outcomes for our patients with long covid.

Eleanor concluded, “I’d like to thank everyone who contributed to our celebration launch of this important Charter with music and the sharing their stories and experience as of arts in healthcare and what it means to them.

“If this sounds like something you can believe can work in your service or team, please do get in touch with our Arts and Health team.

“This is the start of a very exciting journey and I encourage everyone to consider how integrating the arts into our services could benefit the health and wellbeing of patients and staff.”

How you can get involved or keep informed about Arts and Health in Hywel Dda University Health Board: