The arts programme at the National Spinal Injuries Centre at Stoke Mandeville is intended to improve and augment the patient experience and outcomes in comprehensive rehabilitation in a similar fashion to that of the use of sports as started by Poppa Guttmann, but will appeal to those who may currently have no wish or ability to participate in sports as an outlet.
In September 2012, Vivienne Gordon was appointed as arts coordinator for the NSIC for a three year initial period. This exciting innovation has brought many opportunities for patients to explore various art forms and discover or develop their artistic talents.
The Poppa Guttmann Trust continues to support a long term, ongoing arts programme at the NSIC. It is intended that this arts programme will become a permanent and integral part of the rehabilitation of patients, with them enjoying their spare time constructively. Information about how and where to continue art post discharge will also be incorporated.
Creative Arts Workshops and “The Wall”
The creative arts workshops that have been taking place include pottery, drumming, writing, watercolour, crafts, mixed media painting, photography and singing.
The patients at the NSIC have also produced a quarter of the major mural “The Wall” as part of a project organised by the Henley Arts Festival. It was displayed at the festival in July 2013 after the successful launch at the NSIC.
Arts and Health
The link between arts and health has been thoroughly researched as have the many and huge benefits achieved by it. There is a desire, approved by the NHS, to improve or initiate arts programmes in healthcare. The Buckinghamshire NHS Trust is backing the objectives of the NSIC arts programme in order to observe its long term value to the personal benefits for patients and staff and the corporate benefits of a reduced length of stay and increased satisfaction with care.
In the case of spinal cord injured people, there is a need to recover self-worth, and to use opportunities to discover what they can and wish to do, as well as to improve or find a new talent. For many patients, the engagement in arts could lead to a new pastime and for some even to a new career.
The varying fields of art offer very beneficial therapy in both physical and mental ways. One of the most difficult times for a newly spinal injured person is when they return home from the hospital and often wonder what to do. Art and integration to community arts clubs and organisations could be invaluable for this vital transitional period and the future.