Creative practitioners, supporting recovery through creative activities


Creative Minds together with Artworks, the everybody school of art, have recruited 28 creative practitioners to work across our Trust inpatient wards, helping to support people through their recovery journey and improve wellbeing.

Nine creative practitioners have already been working on our wards for a month, and another 19 have started working on wards this week. Creative practitioners work with teams and services to deliver creative approaches to compliment activities and therapies already happening on our wards. They are there to connect and work with inpatients from admission through to discharge. Creative practitioners will also work with social prescribing link workers to make sure that once discharged, patients have ways to connect to local creative activities in their communities. One of the Creative Practitioners has already supported a patient who was preparing for discharge to find a local choir in their area, for example.

Creative practitioners plan and deliver group creative sessions on our inpatient wards. They also give one-to-one tuition alongside creative advice and support to patients who want to develop their practice as part of their recovery. Activities so far have included music, dance, photography, fitness sessions, painting and drawing.

Working with our occupational therapists, creative practitioners, can help develop person-centred ‘creative care plans’ to formally make creative practice part of a person’s everyday care. They are also able to work with a range of staff on our inpatient wards to help give confidence in running creative sessions and in supporting patients who want to use creative approaches.

People were recruited through Creative Minds and are all artists and musicians who also work for other local creative organisations.

Feedback from the first few weeks has been extremely positive. You can read some of the experiences from one of our creative practitioners below. Please note patient names have been removed.

“In my first check-in, this patient was flagged to me as a potential risk due to their unpredictable and sometimes physically violent behaviour. The patient preferred to eat alone in the common space rather than with other service users in the dining room. I continued my performance through lunchtime and when the patient was having dessert they sat and listened quietly.

“In subsequent sessions I found a ‘way in’ with this patient through their interest in the instruments as objects. The patient was especially taken with a Cigar Box Guitar once I explained its construction, and also a handmade Kalimba which they spent a long time ‘fixing’ as some of the keys weren’t straight. After this they became quite talkative with me, staff and other service users.

“In later weeks the patient continued to develop their interest in the instruments, which developed from just looking and ‘fiddling’ with them to playing them, sometimes in jams with the other staff. This revealed they had a strong sense of rhythm – which was surprising as they often presented as hard of hearing (mishearing what staff are asking of them).

“The patient responded very well to a session where I provided live soundtracking of archive film footage. This sparked some memories for them and they began to talk about their background and family. When I used looper pedals to create rhythms of noises picked up by a microphone they seemed delighted, having a brief dance with some of the other service users. The patient’s buoyant mood continued even when they needed changing which had previously been a trigger for aggressive behaviour.

“In my latest session the patient has begun to anticipate what will happen and chooses to sit next to me ready to listen. When I passed them the tongue drum (which they say ‘sounds very nice’) they played along and demonstrated how to use it to the nurse that was supporting them for the session. The patient also likes to help ‘tidy up’ at the end of the day by gathering the instruments and leads together.”

“This patient arrived a few weeks into my time as creative practitioner. They are younger than the other service users and is aware of their surroundings but confused or forgetful about why they are there. This leads to complaining that they feel trapped and this patient can be quite ‘down’ and disgruntled, especially in the mornings. The patient was immediately amiable to music and always interested in listening, and up for having a play with the tongue drum.

“It was when I bought in a synthesizer and more effects pedals that this patient started to become more engaged. They told me used to make them (or something similar) – which his family confirmed was a hobby when we chatted on a visit. In fact, the music making activity provided a useful activity and prompt for conversation between the two of them about the patient’s other working and leisure interests.

“In later sessions the ability of the music to lift the patient’s mood was clear. At times they went from being isolated and shut off to dancing along with other service users in a short space of time. I continued to bring in synthesizer, electronic pedals and an iPad which, even if feeling reluctant to use themselves, the patient would be keen to ‘conduct’ or advise me on how to play.

“In the latest session the patient was very engaged in both listening and playing. They have built confidence with the Hapi tongue-drum and able to play along for over five minutes. We had a great sounding duet with them playing tongue drum and me playing guitar which impressed staff and other service users and prompted a round of applause. The patient then went through the entire box of percussion instruments testing and playing them all. The confidence in this patient has built, they seem to look forward to the sessions and helps me pack away and leave with my gear at the end of the day.”

Further information

Artworks, is the everybody school of art, find out more on their website: Artworks, the Everybody School of Art (

Creative Minds is a charity hosted by South West Yorkshire NHS Foundation Trust. For further information about Creative Minds, visit their website.

Creative practitioners, supporting recovery through creative activities

time to read: 4 min