Art on the Ward


L4A is providing 15 art sessions each in 2 community hospitals in Leicestershire (St Luke’s Market Harborough and Coalville Community Hospital) for the stroke rehab wards. We are working with up to ten inpatients and any visitors who are with them on each session.


We have planned to deliver the same series of art sessions in the two settings. We anticipated that there would be differing challenges at each hospital which would be informative when looking at taking the work forward. During the sessions there is time for discussion with relatives/visitors and this will help us to develop a ‘What to do when you Visit’ resource which would be useful for them when they are visiting. This may also be something we could use in Care Home settings too.  The aims of this pilot are to:

  • Provide meaningful and stimulating creative activity
  • Work alongside the multidisciplinary team to encourage rehabilitation following stroke
  • Relieve boredom
  • Encourage confidence
  • Boost mood and wellbeing
  • Provide topics for conversation
  • Distract from illness and problems associated with long term hospital admission
  • Create a lasting piece which can be displayed (or taken home.)
  • Inform a basic resource which can encourage visitors and family when they are thinking about what to do when visiting their loved one in hospital.

The project was planned together with the matrons, ward managers, activity coordinators, occupational therapist and physiotherapy leads in both hospital wards.


Clare Miles has led the project and is working with another artist, Rowena Williams, to facilitate the sessions. Together, a 15 week plan of art sessions has been developed. Each session is planned in advance, materials and examples are prepared and session guides written so that all participants are able to take part in the session with the help of the volunteers and facilitator. These guides will then form a lasting resource for the activity coordinators on the wards and for staff and volunteer learning mentors to access at L4A.

At the half way point we have worked with 74 patients and visitors across the project. We have 3 regular volunteers now at each site. 1 of our volunteers has herself had a stroke.  Coalville Community Hospital also has the benefit of 3 ‘Pink Ladies’ who are full time activity coordinators on the stroke ward. This has led to a marked difference between the two hospitals for delivery and general interest and engagement in the project.

We have noted that patients and visitors at Coalville are ready and anticipating the sessions in advance – this is in contrast to the ward at St Luke’s where the it seems harder to motivate patients and visitors to join in particularly when the ward staff are very busy or there are only a few therapy staff on hand.


During the project at both hospitals there have been some really lovely examples of art work and achievement, as well as many comments about the project and its benefits from both staff, visitors and patients. Art sessions which lead to a product which can be kept or shared, such as a greetings card, is really appreciated and is a wonderful outlet for expression particularly for the dysphasic patients and those who are not able to speak at all, but can still write – or who make art with a family member who then writes to them. There have been many expressions of surprise and examples of people exceeding their own expectations – or just getting ‘lost’ in the activity and finding themselves distracted from their illness.

Visitors have also been surprised by being invited to participate, this has given them a new perspective on visiting time! We are really excited that we have already had enquiries about replicating the project on other wards and are looking forward to facilitating the second half of the project in the coming weeks.

We have also had the opportunity to display art work from the project in the exhibition space at St Luke’s Hospital on Ward 1 and also as part of our celebrations art exhibition in the Guildhall in Leicester at the end of April 2017.

The ‘Art on the Ward’ Project has been made possible by a charities grant through the Arts in Mental Health NHS service for Leicester Partnership Trust.


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