How a far-reaching arts programme is enhancing the lives of patients at a mental health unit in London
World-class artists have helped to improve the environment for mental health patients at a London hospital.
It seems to me that making vulnerable patients environments pleasant and stimulating is of the utmost importance and would be conducive to recovery and recuperation
Hospital Rooms worked in collaboration with South West London and St George’s Mental Health NHS Trust to commission artists to refurbish the Phoenix Unit at Springfield University Hospital in Tooting.
A secure psychiatric rehabilitation ward, the unit houses up to 18 patients with schizophrenia.
As part of the revamp, each artist was allocated a space within the unit to renovate and they worked with clinicians, consultants, occupational therapists and other trust staff to address physical, logistical and hygiene considerations. This meant it was possible to safely install museum-quality artwork in an area for vulnerable adults.
Aimee Parrott has created a mural for the women’s lounge
Each installation is accompanied by a workshop, which aims to increase understanding of the artwork and encourage service users to develop their own creative practises.
The project was funded by the charity, Morris Markowe League of Friends of Springfield University Hospital, and the Arts Council England. Support has also been received from Dulux Trade, Liquitex, and Metro Imaging.
Speaking about the revamp, service user, Will, said: “I think the new design is changing the way we all live our lives on the ward.
“The art has given us all a new way to start conversations with each other and things already seem so much better.”
Dr Emma Whicher, the hospital’s medical director, added: “Being involved in a project of this kind is hugely beneficial to our patients and staff and means that museum-quality artwork is available to our patients, which greatly contributes to their recovery and care.”
As part of the improvements, London-based design collective, Assemble, created a functional noticeboard that is easy to use for staff and engaging for service users.
It is crafted from cedar and oak and clearly shows the schedule for the week, including details such as meal and medication times as well as listing the activities that are taking place.
The noticeboard helps with the idea that time spent at the Phoenix Unit is meaningful.
London-based design collective, Assemble, created a functional noticeboard
Other artworks include:
Commenting on the impact of the programme, Hannah Spreadbury-Troy, An occupational therapist on the unit, said: “The Hospital Rooms project has brought more than ‘just art’ to the ward. It has brought much-needed energy too.
The resource room has been worked on by Gavin Turk
Being involved in a project of this kind is hugely beneficial to our patients and staff and means that museum-quality artwork is available to our patients, which greatly contributes to their recovery and care
“I believe that projects like this have real potential to have a positive impact on the wellbeing of mental health service users.”
And Knight said of his involvement: “Some of the most-creative and accomplished people that I have known have encountered difficulty with their mental health at one stage or another.”
“It seems to me that making vulnerable patients' environments pleasant and stimulating is of the utmost importance and would be conducive to recovery and recuperation.”