Recently I was invited to join the European Healthcare Design Awards judges panel and this led me to reflect on the importance of awards. Awards are important, they are an opportunity for industries to recognise, celebrate and promote best practice and I believe they are a forum for some healthy, competitive spirit. However awards are particularly important to the arts in health sector.
The use of arts in healthcare is not something new, in fact it has been present for centuries, dating back to some of the earliest hospitals in history. Recent years have seen a quiet global awakening for arts in health. Ever increasing clinical research has proven some very real, and cost effective benefits which can be gained from integrating arts into the healthcare experience - reduced stress; reduced drug requirements; reduced recovery times; shortened hospital stays; improvements in clinical outcomes; enhanced quality of service provision; improvements in staff job satisfaction, well-being and retention and most importantly improved healthcare experiences.
Healthcare awards have traditionally focused on architectural design; environmental sustainability; innovation; service provision; increased efficiency initiatives etc. But more and more healthcare award schemes are beginning to include art and design categories. This is a very exciting development for the sector as it reflects the growing understanding and appreciation of the positive contribution art and design elements play in holistic healthcare provision.
By showcasing and celebrating the best art and design projects/programs we raise awareness, which increases the healthcare sector’s understanding and appreciation of the benefits and contributions art and design can have to healthcare. All of this will, in turn, increases demand.
Artworks in health have often been criticised for being amateur; poor quality; not site specifically commissioned; poorly curated; badly lit; not maintained well etc. Celebrating best practice through award schemes raises standards and expectations.
The positive impact of art and design are being recognised by not only European Healthcare Design Awards, but by other organisations including Building Better Healthcare Awards and The Design & Health International Academy Awards amongst others.
This year’s European Healthcare Design Award for Interior Design and the Arts went to the New QEII Hospital, designed by Penoyre & Prasad, with art commissioning led by Art in Site. Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, designed by BDP, with art commissioning led by Lesley Greene and Thames Lodge Medium Secure Unit with art commissioning led by Willis Newson were both highly commended. I would like to personally congratulate all three projects which were extremely high quality and will be very inspiring to not only the arts health sector, but to the wider global healthcare community. I would also like to thank my fellow judges Susan Francis, Architects for Health; Pamela Bate, Hopkins Architects and Marc Sansom, European Healthcare Design for inviting me to be part of this prestigious award scheme.