Paint donation
Thanks to a generous donation the Toronto Western atrium is filled with new pieces of art, such as the one pictured above, by a variety of Canadian artists. Increasing evidence shows art in a healthcare setting can have a positive effect on the health of patients, visitors and staff. (Photo: UHN)

The practice of medicine is often referred to as an art, but more and more art itself is recognized as a type of medicine.

Much research has been published on the role art can have in the healthcare setting. According to a study in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine evaluating the therapeutic aspect of art in hospitals in Scotland, art can have a great effect on patients and staff by providing a positive distraction and a calming effect on emotions.

The paper also noted there is "increasing evidence that the display of visual art, especially images of nature, can have positive effects on health outcomes, including shorter length of stay in hospital, increased pain tolerance and decreased anxiety."

Thanks to a generous donation of art pieces by a great partner of the Toronto General and Western Hospital Foundation (who wishes to remain anonymous), Toronto Western Hospital (TW) is getting the chance to enhance some of its healing spaces.

Over the last few weeks, art installations by a variety of Canadian artists have begun to appear in both the atrium and food court on the hospital's main floor, with plans to distribute other pieces to the Main Pavilion's fourth floor Day Surgery area and the East Wing's sixth and seventh floor Ophthalmology clinics.

"We're truly grateful for this incredible gift," says Janet Newton, Vice-President and Site Lead, TW.

"Healing doesn't just come from the treatment a patient receives, but also through the setting in which it takes place, and I think these remarkable pieces will make our shared spaces, such as the atrium and clinic waiting areas, much more inviting."

Matthew Eldridge couldn't agree more with the theory of art as a healing tool. As part of his job as coordinator for The Al and Malka Green Artists' Health Centre at TW, he oversees projects to help bring various mediums of art to the healthcare community. 

"People can feel anxious about their health, and the space you're in affects how you're doing, how you feel, and can influence your experience of being in a hospital," he says.

"Art is definitely a way to provide a warm, comforting environment and this is true whether you're a patient, visitor or even a staff member. The better staff feel, the better they can offer health services."

The hope is that these particular pieces will provide moments of reflection, relaxation, pause and enjoyment for all of TW's patients, visitors, and staff.​

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