The Health Policy Research Institute released its brief on the evidence for the arts and health, in June 2012.
It notes the need for policy to link and coordinate the activities of arts therapists, primary care practitioners, community artists and volunteers.
They recommend that interventions in a comprehensive arts and health program should include:
- For the few: individual therapy provided by professional arts therapists; arts strategies for relaxation, pain relief, diversion, and self-management. This may involve improving team coordination around these therapeutic goals, and broadening arts therapist position descriptions to incorporate practice elements suggested by evidence.
- For some: targeted participatory arts-based programs based around particular needs such as rehabilitation, reintegration, or return to work. This may involve forming a range of partnerships within and between acute care, continuing care, primary care,community care and arts organisations.
- For many: good design, arts in the environment; opportunities to attend performances and participate in cultural events. Access issues should be addressed by institutions and local communities, taking into account social inequity. This may involve improving liaison within healthcare institutions between infrastructure departments and clinical units, and between healthcare organisations and thenetwork of cultural organisations in their neighbourhood.
They conclude that the evidence is sufficient to justify healthcare managers incorporating arts-based strategies in strategic plans, and further suggest that:
- An integrated care model is required to set up referral and consultation pathways between healthcare institutions, agencies and the community. An implication is a shift from project workers to continuing appointments in arts and health staffing.
- Large institutions or specialised institutions with arts therapists on staff, should consider including education, coordination, and consultation responsibilities inrevised workloads for these specialists. This broadening of the role should allow institutions to attend to the diversity of programs as outlined above.
- Institutions and agencies without arts therapists on staff should consider engaging a sessional arts consultant/educator from another healthcare institution or from the community.
- Ongoing training of arts therapists to incorporate new responsibilities, and training of other staff members and volunteers, is needed to implement an integrated model of care. Some staff and volunteers will develop particular skills; others need to become familiar with arts strategies if they are to provide a supportive context for a variety of arts interventions. Skilled supervision is essential for non-specialist staff and volunteers working in the field.
- Priority should be given to forming partnerships between health care agencies and arts organisations. These partnerships should facilitate sharing knowledge, staff exchanges, and creation of joint arts and health events and programs.