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Interactive arts and music audio tour to improve hospital patients’ treatment and rehabilitation

06 June 2014

Chelsea and Westminster Health Charity has launched a mobile phone app as part of its new arts in health project, Rhapsody, which brings together music and visual arts into an interactive audio tour for the benefit of hospital patients.

Chelsea and Westminster Health Charity has launched a mobile phone app as part of its new arts in health project, Rhapsody, which brings together music and visual arts into an interactive audio tour for the benefit of hospital patients.

Working with physiotherapists, occupational therapists and digital media company imagineear, the app aims to motivate patients in their rehabilitation. For example, instead of patients practising their exercises along the same stretch of corridor, physiotherapists are inviting them to locate artwork in the hospital using an interactive map on the app. In this way patients have begun creating a trail around paintings, sculptures and installations, making progress every day.

The app has recently been piloted by therapy teams at the hospital. Darren Brown, Physiotherapist, Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, says: “The app has been really successful in engaging more patients in rehabilitation. It's actually something patients want to do. Patients may be lacking in motivation and unhappy around their situation. To do something that is part of the real world can help take away those thoughts. Going on an art tour isn’t something that people expect to be doing while they are in hospital. The elation that you can see when people have engaged is really quite significant.”

The project has been supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England’s Grants for the Arts programme. The artworks on the app have all been paired with newly-composed pieces of relaxing music and commissioned from 15 emerging composers. These composers are recent graduates from the most prestigious musical institutions including the Royal College of Music, the Royal Academy of Music and Oxford and Cambridge Universities. They have worked with project ambassador and international-award-winning composer Eric Whitacre, and project mentor William Mival, Head of Composition at the Royal College of Music, to create works inspired by both the artworks and physiotherapy at the hospital.

Eric Whitacre says: “I am honoured to support the ground-breaking work of Chelsea and Westminster Health Charity. Their vision to create works of art for the healing environment will provide benefits today and a legacy for the future. This has been a tremendous opportunity for young composers to embrace.”

The Rhapsody project, which has been delivered in partnership with the Royal College of Music’s internationally renowned Woodhouse Professional Development Centre, draws on the growing body of research that looks at the way different types of music can impact on health, particularly how music can be used to stimulate movement in patients recovering from conditions such as strokes. The project aims to improve both patient experience and clinical outcomes within the hospital.

Daisy Fancourt, Arts and Enterprising Health Manager says: “We are really excited to launch Rhapsody. It has already demonstrated the powerful effects of bringing together arts, technology and medicine to improve patient experience and rehabilitation. I hope it will inspire future collaboration between musicians, artists and clinicians to benefit patients.”

Out of more than 250 applications, the 15 successful composers who participate in the project are Chloe Louise Potter, Amal Lad, Joseph Currie, Mika Sawai, Juan Carlos Vasquez, Daniel Andreas Baboulene, Marcos Fernandez, Nick Pike, Soosan Lalavar, Katie Chatburn, Charlotte Harding, Chris Williams, Isaac Ssebandeke, Chris Roe, Tomas Challenger.