Art therapy at Royal United Hospital, Bath

ContactHetty Dupays, Arts Co-ordinator at the Royal United Hospital Bath NHS Trust
AddressRoyal United Hospital, Avon, Bath, Somerset BA1 3NG

What is being done?

Art at the Heart is a charitably funded arts programme for the Royal United Hospital (RUH) Bath NHS Trust. Its mission is to deliver a programme of integrated arts projects for the comfort, health and well being of patients, staff and the wider hospital community.

Hospital Notes aims to create an uplifting and positive environment for patients, visitors and staff, and creates long-lasting relationships between the RUH and the wider community. We have been working with young musicians from Live Music Now and Bath Spa University, as well as local musicians and staff from the RUH, including the RUH Choir. Volunteers from the RUH’s League of Friends have assisted, to plan and oversee the programme and students from Bath Spa University have been mentored by post graduate student Rosanna Campbell.

What is new and different?

These projects include extensive exhibitions and collections programme; for which the RUH was short listed last year by ‘Building Better Healthcare for an Award’ for Best Use of Visual Arts.

What difference this seems to be making

Consultations with staff and patients at the RUH showed that there is an obvious need for more activities to be available, particularly for long-term patients. A number of older patients that are admitted have dementia, finding it difficult to communicate. In this case consultations with ward managers have been instrumental in determining how patients would benefit from activities.

Workshops and performances delivered through the Hospital Notes programme will involve patients, their carers/relatives and staff on the Older People’s Units. A wide variety of the hospital community will benefit from a continuous programme of live music in the communal areas; these include outpatients and visitors, clinical staff and non-clinical staff.

Through feedback it has been noted that live music improves the atmosphere of the hospital and can be a welcome distraction at a difficult time. Following on from the success of the Hospital Notes pilot project with Bath Spa Graduate, Rosanna Campbell, it is evident that interactive workshops can aid recovery and benefit the health and well-being of patients. It is clear that listening to music and participating in workshops provides interactive stimulation for patients.

Plans for taking the project forward

The RUH serves over 500,000 people and we are aware from visitor feedback that there is great support and pride in the performing arts programme at the hospital. We have also developed a strong support from the wider arts and educational community.

Our Performing Arts Co-ordinator, Rosanna Campbell, will organise regular meetings with Charles Wiffen, Head of Music at Bath Spa University, to maintain the link between the RUH and Bath Spa University by involving students in placements and mentoring. Ongoing mentoring of students will provide undergraduates with the opportunity to gain practical experience of arts delivery in hospitals.

We have built a strong partnership with the Joyce Fletcher Charitable Trust which provides funding for our musicians from Live Music Now (LMN) and we have developed a new relationship with the Somerset based organisation Superact, which has funded the music workshops on the Older People’s Units and is providing training and support for Rosanna.

Arts & Health South West has recently submitted a funding application to the Department of Health for a 3 year project to support arts activities for those with dementia in 7 hospitals in the South West.  The project will be developed with the support of a reference group of arts co-ordinators and nursing/dementia support staff from each hospital. The RUH has been chosen as the pilot hospital if the funding application is successful.  This will help the RUH to improve its services, and linking with other hospitals and AHSW will enable sharing of best practice.

Over the past two years we have run pilot projects on the wards and in public spaces, and evaluations demonstrated that there is a need for more stimulation for patients in hospitals, and research suggests that participation in musical activities can boost self-esteem, benefit well-being, and can aid recovery. Hundreds of patients, visitors and RUH staff have the opportunity to take part in activities that they might not have experienced before.

We will work with the Dementia Strategy Group to determine the needs of the patients and to explore how the arts can improve their quality of life and well-being whilst in hospital.

2 thoughts on “Art therapy at Royal United Hospital, Bath

  1. Matthew sharpe

    Hi there my name is Matthew sharpe .
    I was wondering if I could talk to someone
    Regarding how to get involved with art therapy ? I’m a illustrator with a wide range of mix media use . I also am a keen musician . And I regard myself as a kind and caring person who would take great pride in helping others not so fortunate as myself . It sounds very rewarding and I would love to know how I could help .
    Kind regards m sharpe .

    1. Rowan Purdy Post author

      Hi Matthew,

      I recommend getting in touch with Hetty Dupays, Arts Co-ordinator at the Royal United Hospital Bath NHS Trust. You can email her at

      Rowan, Editor, Dementia Partnerships

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