Tag Archives: Help

Arts can help recovery from illness and keep people well, report says

GPs prescribing arts activities to some ill patients could lead to a dramatic fall in hospital admissions and save the NHS money, according to a new report into the subject of arts, health and wellbeing published after two years of evidence-gathering.

The inquiry report was published on Wednesday; a huge document that includes hundreds of interviews and dozens of case studies showing how powerfully the arts can contribute to people’s health and wellbeing.

David Shrigley illustration


Illustration: David Shrigley

Co-chaired by former arts ministers Alan Howarth and Ed Vaizey, the all-party inquiry contends that the arts can keep people well, aid recovery from illness, help people to live longer, better lives and save money in health and social services.

Lord Howarth said it was a comprehensive review of evidence that had never been produced before. “Sceptics say where is the evidence of the efficacy of the arts in health? Where is the evidence of the value for money it can provide? We show it in this report.

“The arts can help people take responsibility for their own health and wellbeing in ways that will be crucial to the health of the nation.”

Art helps you see


Illustration: David Shrigley

The report was welcomed by the current arts minister, John Glen, appointed five weeks ago. He pledged to act on its recommendations, saying: “This sort of work isn’t window-dressing, please don’t be cynical about it. It gives a dataset and some real stories that we can use as we go through the treacle of Whitehall.”

The case studies include an Artlift arts-on-prescription project in Gloucestershire where patients with a wide range of conditions, from depression to chronic pain to stroke, were referred to an eight-week course involving poetry, ceramics, drawing, mosaic or painting.

A cost-benefit analysis showed a 37% drop in GP consultation rates and a 27% reduction in hospital admissions. That represents an NHS saving of £216 per patient.

The Strokestra project between the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Hull stroke service running a music-making service for patients


The Strokestra project between the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Hull stroke service running a music-making service for patients.

Strokestra, a collaboration between the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Hull stroke service, found that 86% of patients felt music-making sessions – which included percussion and conducting – relieved their symptoms and improved their sleep.

The report also includes contributions from artists including David Shrigley, who has provided illustrations, and Grayson Perry, who writes: “Making and consuming art lifts our spirits and keeps us sane. Art, like science and religion, helps us make meaning from our lives, and to make meaning is to make us feel better.”

Howarth said there were many examples of good practice and innovation around the UK, but also areas where little was going on.

'The arts' sun shining on a sunflower


Illustration: David Shrigley

“We are calling for an informed and open-minded willingness to accept that the arts can make a significant contribution to addressing a number of the pressing issues faced by our health and social care systems.”

The report makes 10 “modest and feasible” recommendations that would not need additional public spending or require new legislation, the report authors said.

They include setting up a philanthropically funded strategic centre to support good practice, promote collaboration and coordinate research.

There are also recommendations about politicians and policymakers from different areas working better together, something Vaizey acknowledged was an issue.

Arts minister for six years until being sacked by Theresa May, Vaizey added: “I was very conscious as a minister that I worked in a silo and it was incredibly hard to break out of that silo, incredibly hard to engage with ministers from other government departments. The arts, almost more than any sector, is a classic example where silo working does not work.”

The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Arts, Health and Wellbeing report is available here.

Arts can help recovery from illness and keep people well, report says

GPs prescribing arts activities to some ill patients could lead to a dramatic fall in hospital admissions and save the NHS money, according to a new report into the subject of arts, health and wellbeing published after two years of evidence-gathering.

The inquiry report was published on Wednesday; a huge document that includes hundreds of interviews and dozens of case studies showing how powerfully the arts can contribute to people’s health and wellbeing.

David Shrigley illustration


Illustration: David Shrigley

Co-chaired by former arts ministers Alan Howarth and Ed Vaizey, the all-party inquiry contends that the arts can keep people well, aid recovery from illness, help people to live longer, better lives and save money in health and social services.

Lord Howarth said it was a comprehensive review of evidence that had never been produced before. “Sceptics say where is the evidence of the efficacy of the arts in health? Where is the evidence of the value for money it can provide? We show it in this report.

“The arts can help people take responsibility for their own health and wellbeing in ways that will be crucial to the health of the nation.”

Art helps you see


Illustration: David Shrigley

The report was welcomed by the current arts minister, John Glen, appointed five weeks ago. He pledged to act on its recommendations, saying: “This sort of work isn’t window-dressing, please don’t be cynical about it. It gives a dataset and some real stories that we can use as we go through the treacle of Whitehall.”

The case studies include an Artlift arts-on-prescription project in Gloucestershire where patients with a wide range of conditions, from depression to chronic pain to stroke, were referred to an eight-week course involving poetry, ceramics, drawing, mosaic or painting.

A cost-benefit analysis showed a 37% drop in GP consultation rates and a 27% reduction in hospital admissions. That represents an NHS saving of £216 per patient.

The Strokestra project between the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Hull stroke service running a music-making service for patients


The Strokestra project between the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Hull stroke service running a music-making service for patients.

Strokestra, a collaboration between the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Hull stroke service, found that 86% of patients felt music-making sessions – which included percussion and conducting – relieved their symptoms and improved their sleep.

The report also includes contributions from artists including David Shrigley, who has provided illustrations, and Grayson Perry, who writes: “Making and consuming art lifts our spirits and keeps us sane. Art, like science and religion, helps us make meaning from our lives, and to make meaning is to make us feel better.”

Howarth said there were many examples of good practice and innovation around the UK, but also areas where little was going on.

'The arts' sun shining on a sunflower


Illustration: David Shrigley

“We are calling for an informed and open-minded willingness to accept that the arts can make a significant contribution to addressing a number of the pressing issues faced by our health and social care systems.”

The report makes 10 “modest and feasible” recommendations that would not need additional public spending or require new legislation, the report authors said.

They include setting up a philanthropically funded strategic centre to support good practice, promote collaboration and coordinate research.

There are also recommendations about politicians and policymakers from different areas working better together, something Vaizey acknowledged was an issue.

Arts minister for six years until being sacked by Theresa May, Vaizey added: “I was very conscious as a minister that I worked in a silo and it was incredibly hard to break out of that silo, incredibly hard to engage with ministers from other government departments. The arts, almost more than any sector, is a classic example where silo working does not work.”

The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Arts, Health and Wellbeing report is available here.

Hounds of love: ​how ​support dogs​ can help with everything from diabetes to autism

Coco, a chocolate-brown cocker spaniel puppy, had been living with her owner for just three days when it is likely she saved her life for the first time. Now, six months later, it happens daily. Millie Law, who is 12, has a complex form of type 1 diabetes, which gives her no indication when her blood sugar levels are dangerously low or high. Coco, who can use her powerful sense of smell to detect changes on Millie’s breath or sweat, is one of about 7,000 dogs in Britain offering life-changing – and sometimes life-saving – support to children and adults with a growing range of medical conditions and disabilities.

As well as guide dogs for the blind and hearing dogs, specially trained dogs can provide practical support to those with conditions ranging from multiple sclerosis and cerebral palsy to the effects of stroke and autism. Others can alert to dangerous situations in type 1 diabetes, epilepsy, Addison’s disease, nut allergy, narcolepsy and some cardiac conditions.

“Coco is a guardian angel,” says Millie’s father, Graham. “Before she arrived, Millie didn’t feel safe. She had several frightening emergency hospital admissions. Now she knows Coco is looking after her wherever she goes.”

Coco is in the process of becoming an accredited diabetic alert dog through the organisation Hypo Hounds. Unusually, this new charity works with and trains pet dogs rather than by matching people with pre-trained dogs. Coco is now eight months, and her training should be complete – with her identifying 80% of Millie’s hypos (blood glucose lows) and hypers (highs) – by the age of two.

Coco alerts Millie by barking or pawing at her. In time, she will also then fetch an emergency treatment kit. Though Millie does wear a continuous glucose monitor, it only indicates a problem about 15 minutes after her glucose level has fallen or risen too far. Alert dogs can detect glucose changes around 30 minutes before the level reaches a danger point.

Graham hopes Coco’s skills will allow Millie “a more typical teenage life”; previously difficult not just because of the medical risks, but also because of her lack of confidence. “Millie was too scared to go out without us or to meet friends, and we were worried to let her go. At parties or school trips, she had to have one of us. As a teenager that isn’t ideal.”

Since her diagnosis aged six, Millie’s parents have checked her at 2am every night. “To be honest, every morning we go into Millie’s room to check she is breathing. Extra peace of mind would be incredible.” Aside from her vital alert work, Coco is affectionate and playful pet. “She has been our family dog from the start – we all love her – but she has an incredible bond with Millie. She follows her everywhere. Coco is like a best friend.”

Cohen and his autism-assistance dog, Azerley.


Cohen and his autism-assistance dog, Azerley. Photograph: AmyLawPhotography

For Cohen Hadfield, nine, from South Yorkshire, a canine friend has also been life-changing. Cohen has autism, global developmental delay, a hearing impairment and complex epilepsy. His mother, Sarah, credits Azerley – a labrador/golden retriever cross which has been with the family for three years – with boosting his communication, social skills and happiness.

“Before Azerley, Cohen’s anxiety was so bad we couldn’t really go out. He would refuse or bolt off into the road. We were very isolated and Cohen was so fearful that he started biting his hands. He couldn’t express himself any other way,” she says. “It was heartbreaking.”

Cohen had previously shown no interest in animals and so, admits Sarah, her expectations were low – “but we were prepared to try anything”. She approached the charity Support Dogs and, after a careful matching process, Azerley – a trained autism-assistance dog with the same public access rights as a guide dog – was introduced to the family. “He was lying on the floor and Cohen was watching. Then Cohen went over and just touched Azerley’s paw. It was,” says Sarah, “an incredible moment.”

Cohen’s trust in Azerley grew rapidly. “I think Cohen senses his unconditional love, no matter how he is feeling. A human has expectations – eye contact, conversation – and can be unpredictable. Azerley is a constant, reassuring presence,” she says. “Since the day he moved in, Cohen has never bitten his hands.” The family now enjoys outings – “shopping, to the cinema, bowling” – with Cohen happy to walk attached by a harness to Azerley. “This is exactly what Cohen needs to build life skills and unlock his potential. He can interact with his surroundings, point things out, investigate.”

Should Cohen try to bolt – now very unusual – the dog is able to hold him still. And when Cohen’s anxiety does rise, Azerley nudges him or puts his head on the boy’s lap. At home, Cohen loves to have Azerley lie on his legs (like many children with autism, Cohen finds pressure calming). “He is like a huge sensory teddy bear for Cohen,” says Sarah.

“He just grins and sings to Azerley.” This, says Sarah, is incredible for a recently non-verbal child. “Cohen was using signs, but he soon began to say the words to Azerley as well.” With the dog’s support, Cohen has now enjoyed his first trip to the beach. “Azerley sat beside him as he built his first sandcastle,” says Sarah. As Cohen’s confidence and independence grow, Azerley’s practical role – which currently includes getting Cohen’s clothes out and guiding him through his morning routine – will gradually reduce. By the time Azerley officially stops working, aged about 10, he will be simply a pet for the family. It will be, Sarah believes, a richly deserved retirement. “Cohen was locked in his own world. Azerley has been able to reach in and bring him back.”

hypohounds.co.uk
supportdogs.org.uk

Brain game: how quitting routine tasks can help you learn new tricks

Although his previous attempt at a career break, by becoming an apprentice shoemaker in Florence, didn’t last long, it seems Daniel Day-Lewis is serious about retiring this time.

Maybe he’s looking for a new challenge. As we get older, work can feel more routine and easy, which is born out in terms of brain activity.

Scans show tasks we are practised at often use less energy than novel activities – we tend to do them more efficiently, and the mental energy required decreases. We’re all familiar with this as our careers advance.

We also get more skilled at spotting our mistakes and rectifying them; as an old hand, you can notice when the edge has gone but you have enough tricks in the bag to make amends. This ‘neuroprotective’ effect may be behind some of the results that show an apparent delay in symptoms of age-related cognitive decline for those more active in middle age. In this light a preemptive move, like Day-Lewis’s, may be more sensible as we become over familiar with what we do.

It is perhaps typical of this most uncompromising of actors that he’s quitting while ahead.

Dr Daniel Glaser is director of Science Gallery at King’s College London

Brain game: how quitting routine tasks can help you learn new tricks

Although his previous attempt at a career break, by becoming an apprentice shoemaker in Florence, didn’t last long, it seems Daniel Day-Lewis is serious about retiring this time.

Maybe he’s looking for a new challenge. As we get older, work can feel more routine and easy, which is born out in terms of brain activity.

Scans show tasks we are practised at often use less energy than novel activities – we tend to do them more efficiently, and the mental energy required decreases. We’re all familiar with this as our careers advance.

We also get more skilled at spotting our mistakes and rectifying them; as an old hand, you can notice when the edge has gone but you have enough tricks in the bag to make amends. This ‘neuroprotective’ effect may be behind some of the results that show an apparent delay in symptoms of age-related cognitive decline for those more active in middle age. In this light a preemptive move, like Day-Lewis’s, may be more sensible as we become over familiar with what we do.

It is perhaps typical of this most uncompromising of actors that he’s quitting while ahead.

Dr Daniel Glaser is director of Science Gallery at King’s College London

Brain game: how quitting routine tasks can help you learn new tricks

Although his previous attempt at a career break, by becoming an apprentice shoemaker in Florence, didn’t last long, it seems Daniel Day-Lewis is serious about retiring this time.

Maybe he’s looking for a new challenge. As we get older, work can feel more routine and easy, which is born out in terms of brain activity.

Scans show tasks we are practised at often use less energy than novel activities – we tend to do them more efficiently, and the mental energy required decreases. We’re all familiar with this as our careers advance.

We also get more skilled at spotting our mistakes and rectifying them; as an old hand, you can notice when the edge has gone but you have enough tricks in the bag to make amends. This ‘neuroprotective’ effect may be behind some of the results that show an apparent delay in symptoms of age-related cognitive decline for those more active in middle age. In this light a preemptive move, like Day-Lewis’s, may be more sensible as we become over familiar with what we do.

It is perhaps typical of this most uncompromising of actors that he’s quitting while ahead.

Dr Daniel Glaser is director of Science Gallery at King’s College London

Brain game: how quitting routine tasks can help you learn new tricks

Although his previous attempt at a career break, by becoming an apprentice shoemaker in Florence, didn’t last long, it seems Daniel Day-Lewis is serious about retiring this time.

Maybe he’s looking for a new challenge. As we get older, work can feel more routine and easy, which is born out in terms of brain activity.

Scans show tasks we are practised at often use less energy than novel activities – we tend to do them more efficiently, and the mental energy required decreases. We’re all familiar with this as our careers advance.

We also get more skilled at spotting our mistakes and rectifying them; as an old hand, you can notice when the edge has gone but you have enough tricks in the bag to make amends. This ‘neuroprotective’ effect may be behind some of the results that show an apparent delay in symptoms of age-related cognitive decline for those more active in middle age. In this light a preemptive move, like Day-Lewis’s, may be more sensible as we become over familiar with what we do.

It is perhaps typical of this most uncompromising of actors that he’s quitting while ahead.

Dr Daniel Glaser is director of Science Gallery at King’s College London

Brain game: how quitting routine tasks can help you learn new tricks

Although his previous attempt at a career break, by becoming an apprentice shoemaker in Florence, didn’t last long, it seems Daniel Day-Lewis is serious about retiring this time.

Maybe he’s looking for a new challenge. As we get older, work can feel more routine and easy, which is born out in terms of brain activity.

Scans show tasks we are practised at often use less energy than novel activities – we tend to do them more efficiently, and the mental energy required decreases. We’re all familiar with this as our careers advance.

We also get more skilled at spotting our mistakes and rectifying them; as an old hand, you can notice when the edge has gone but you have enough tricks in the bag to make amends. This ‘neuroprotective’ effect may be behind some of the results that show an apparent delay in symptoms of age-related cognitive decline for those more active in middle age. In this light a preemptive move, like Day-Lewis’s, may be more sensible as we become over familiar with what we do.

It is perhaps typical of this most uncompromising of actors that he’s quitting while ahead.

Dr Daniel Glaser is director of Science Gallery at King’s College London

Brain game: how quitting routine tasks can help you learn new tricks

Although his previous attempt at a career break, by becoming an apprentice shoemaker in Florence, didn’t last long, it seems Daniel Day-Lewis is serious about retiring this time.

Maybe he’s looking for a new challenge. As we get older, work can feel more routine and easy, which is born out in terms of brain activity.

Scans show tasks we are practised at often use less energy than novel activities – we tend to do them more efficiently, and the mental energy required decreases. We’re all familiar with this as our careers advance.

We also get more skilled at spotting our mistakes and rectifying them; as an old hand, you can notice when the edge has gone but you have enough tricks in the bag to make amends. This ‘neuroprotective’ effect may be behind some of the results that show an apparent delay in symptoms of age-related cognitive decline for those more active in middle age. In this light a preemptive move, like Day-Lewis’s, may be more sensible as we become over familiar with what we do.

It is perhaps typical of this most uncompromising of actors that he’s quitting while ahead.

Dr Daniel Glaser is director of Science Gallery at King’s College London

Brain game: how quitting routine tasks can help you learn new tricks

Although his previous attempt at a career break, by becoming an apprentice shoemaker in Florence, didn’t last long, it seems Daniel Day-Lewis is serious about retiring this time.

Maybe he’s looking for a new challenge. As we get older, work can feel more routine and easy, which is born out in terms of brain activity.

Scans show tasks we are practised at often use less energy than novel activities – we tend to do them more efficiently, and the mental energy required decreases. We’re all familiar with this as our careers advance.

We also get more skilled at spotting our mistakes and rectifying them; as an old hand, you can notice when the edge has gone but you have enough tricks in the bag to make amends. This ‘neuroprotective’ effect may be behind some of the results that show an apparent delay in symptoms of age-related cognitive decline for those more active in middle age. In this light a preemptive move, like Day-Lewis’s, may be more sensible as we become over familiar with what we do.

It is perhaps typical of this most uncompromising of actors that he’s quitting while ahead.

Dr Daniel Glaser is director of Science Gallery at King’s College London