The healing arts

The rb&hArts team is piloting virtual reality creative sessions for older inactive and less mobile people.  Photo by Elam ForresterThe Trust’s arts programme rb&hArts delivers a range of vibrant creative arts designed to improve wellbeing and enhance our buildings for patients, visitors and staff.

Mainly funded by the Royal Brompton & Harefield Hospitals Charity, this year the rb&hArts team organised more than 500 workshops working with 30 artists and curated the Trust’s valuable permanent collection of over 1,000 artworks.

Singing for Breathing, rb&hArts’ flagship project for older adults living with chronic respiratory conditions, celebrated its 10th anniversary (see separate piece below).

The core arts programme includes two musicians in residence playing live music for adult inpatients six hours per week, temporary exhibitions, and arts and crafts workshops called Crafternoons for 10 hours a month.

The rb&hArts team also co-delivers cultural programmes for health with older people in and outside the hospitals, including Akademi’s dance workshops in Uxbridge, and is piloting virtual reality creative sessions for older inactive and less mobile people with digital art studio SDNA.

As well as running projects for older people, rb&hArts runs Vocal Beats – a project that brings creative music-making skills and beatboxing to younger patients. Since starting the project in 2015, it has supported over 600 children aged 0-16 years.

The programme expanded this year to include 17 to 25-year-olds, with musicians delivering one-to-one sessions for cystic fibrosis and transplant patients.

Celebrating 10 years of Singing for Breathing 

Singing for Breathing session at Royal BromptonThe benefits of Singing for Breathing were celebrated this year as the project reached its 10th anniversary. Singing for Breathing supports people living with chronic lung and heart conditions or who experience breathlessness. People are invited to discover and tackle their health issues by singing.

Victoria Hume, founder of rb&hArts, was commissioned to revisit the project which she first established and co-create a choral work called The Singing Hospital. She was inspired by her interviews and audio recordings of people experiencing breathlessness.

The Singing for Breathing groups at the Trust are now the longest continually running hospital-based workshops in Britain for people with respiratory conditions.

Tia Thomas, who has a number of respiratory conditions, said: “I think it’s great. First, I noticed how much more lively it made me feel, then how much easier my breathing got during the classes.”

Art commissioned to celebrate the NHS

The 70th anniversary of the NHS was celebrated in NHS70 Thanks for Everything, a Trust-wide programme of events themed on gratitude.

To mark the end of the year’s celebrations, the rb&hArts team unveiled new permanent artworks at both hospitals.

The two large mosaics, titled NHS70: Thanks for Everything, feature artwork by artist Carrie Reichardt, containing imagery taken from hospital archives and personalised ceramic hearts painted by patients and staff.Mosaic titled NHS70: Thanks for Everything

Each individual ceramic heart contains a personalised message about the Trust, either from a member of staff reminiscing about its history, or a patient.

Sally Morgan, Baroness Morgan of Huyton and Trust chair, said: “These artworks are both a symbol and a recognition of the importance of the NHS, but also the importance of Royal Brompton and Harefield as well. It’s good to have something strong and visual in both hospitals to symbolise the strength of care and compassion that happens in this Trust, and throughout the NHS."

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