‘Young at Heart’ project in Salisbury District Hospital

ContactPeter Ursem, General Manager ArtCare

What is being done?

salisbury young at heartThe Young at Heart project is a programme that brings creative activity onto wards with older patients, including patients with dementia. Young at Heart works with experienced arts facilitators (musicians, movement artists, storytellers, etc) who bring entertainment onto the wards, in order to counteract boredom in hospital, lift patients’ moods, and interact positively and creatively with patients. There are currently 6 sessions of 45 minutes taking place each week, on four participating wards.

What is new and different?

Older patients in general, including patients with dementia, have a great need to be cared for in a friendly hospital environment, with compassion, and stimulus for body and mind. The Young at Heart project addresses all three elements with a creative approach. The facilitating artists are trained to be sensitive to patients’ individual needs, and bring a smile on people’s faces.

What difference does this seem to be making?

The Young at Heart activities clearly lift patients’ moods. That is easy to observe in any of the session. Patients for example make comments such as:

“You have done me a world of good”

“I wish the doctor could see us moving”

“The music is bringing back memories”

“I wish I could take you home with me”

In addition to these positive effects on mood, it is expected that patients’ participation in the creative activities may also improve their food intake and sleep patterns, and reduce perception levels of pain or anxiety, and could possibly reduce length of stay, but no formal evidence has been gathered to prove these additional benefits.

However, the anecdotal and observational evidence is sufficiently strong, and based on this the trustees of Salisbury NHS FT Charitable Fund have agreed funding for extension of the project until 2015.

Further information

Various, for example in ArtCare newsletter and website  (see www.artcare.salisbury.nhs.uk ), Animate (community dance magazine), League of Friends magazine, Clinical Governance newsletter