Unique arts studio set to open at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital


Multi-functional, accessible art space to support patients and staff

A new, bespoke multi-functional arts space has opened at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital.

The CW+ Studio was launched as part of the hospital charity CW+’s award-winning performance and participatory programme, Arts for All.

Construction on the studio was completed at the end of March last year and was been equipped to become a hub of cultural activity for the hospital community.

However, at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the in-person participatory arts programme moved online, and the CW+ Studio was temporarily transformed into a wellbeing hub for staff at the hospital, open 24 hours a day and providing a welcoming environment for staff to relax, reflect, and refuel.

The studio was designed and built according to accessibility and design principles set out in the CW+ Design Standards Guide, as well as those governing good practice in building better environments for patients and staff.

Working with Ensigna Construction, CW+ has achieved a design that delivers the following key elements:

  • A dementia-friendly space
  • Wheelchair accessibility
  • Meets hospital requirements – disabled toilet, air handling, fire safety etc
  • Adjustable lighting
  • Integrated sound system
  • Kitchen facilities
  • 100sq m of dedicated floorspace to facilitate group workshops and events

The space has the capacity to host a full range of activities and support the delivery of patient and staff-facing sessions led by musicians, visual artists, creative movement specialists, and art psychotherapists.

Trystan Hawkins, arts director at CW+, said: “As we emerge from the pandemic, the CW+ Studio will initially launch with a hybrid programme of online activities and events alongside small-scale ‘live’ participatory events, programming, and workshops.

Completed just prior to the Coronavirus outbreak last year, the studio was repurposed to act as a staff respite area

Completed just prior to the Coronavirus outbreak last year, the studio was repurposed to act as a staff respite area

“Long-term, it will host a varied programme including artist/musical residencies, health-related support groups, and carers support for our inpatients, outpatients, and the wider hospital community.

“Our ambition is to offer the best-possible care during a hospital admission and to support people to stay well in their communities once discharged, by fostering healthy ageing and encouraging social engagement.

“With the bespoke CW+ Studio space, we are able to deliver an engaging, inclusive, active, and connected programme that will have far-reaching health and social benefits for participants and the communities in which they live.”

Through a co-designed community approach, the CW+ Studio and arts programme expect to reach 24,360 inpatients and outpatients and more than 7,000 carers, through 1,128 activities over three years.

In order to carefully evaluate the impact of the intervention, and the arts programme, the charity is working with the University of Exeter’s College of Medicine and Health on a framework to research the effect on health and social outcomes.

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“Underpinning all our work is an objective to grow a robust body of evidence that clearly demonstrates the impact on patient outcomes, care delivery, and the cost effectiveness of our work”, said Hawkins.