|10 Poems in the Hospital Waiting Room|
The Healing Environment
Poems in the Hospital Waiting Room
The healing environment is first, and above all, people: all those that the patient meets and hopes will help make whole. It starts at the beginning in reception. "I will see if you are on the computer!" said in a tone that implies if not, then it is the computer that is wrong, not the patient. "Ah yes! Here you are: we are expecting you." The principal that the patient comes first as an individual rather than a unit to processed is central to the healing environment.
Arts in Health
Yet, especially in hospital care, there is the frequent hiatus, often in moving between units for different procedures, where patients wait and are left alone to their own devices. The physical surrounds then dominate and bear upon mood. These are inescapably institutional, perhaps made harder by the strict demands of infection control.
It is here that arts in health may play a vital part. Visual arts, with pictures and conceptual art pieces, or even poetry posters are conventionally the core, well represented by important national charities especially Paintings in Hospitals. But these items are part of a public or general domain, and do not necessarily touch the patient as an individual. One hospital arts manager even suggested that patients feel pictures or poetry posters are there just to cover cracks in the plaster work!
PitWR Poetry Cards
Poems in the Hospital Waiting Room may now come in specifically to confirm a patient's personal individual need and sense of recognition.. The poems offer alternative visions, infused with a sense of hope with closely related images like home and acceptance, safe journey and arrival, friends and companionship, care and security, harvest and abundance, work and reward, books and learning, beauty and transcendence, spring and renaissance, together with all the joys of love and loving.
Taking a poetry card and getting deeply immersed in the poems creates a personal space or a cocoon that is an escape from the immediate physical surrounds and health worries. Poetry intimately and swiftly links the mind and the heart, and poems, drawn from the springs of well-being, stimulate similar emotion. A grateful patient wrote "I have just picked up a copy of Poems in the Waiting Room, and I thought what a great thing. Full of thoughts of self and sorrowful me, it plucked me out of my doom and filled me with a moment of beauty. Whosoever you are, thank you; great idea."
Poems in the Hospital Waiting Room therefore helps particularly in creating and sustaining the healing environment. The distribution of poetry cards is a rapid and economic means of introducing and spreading arts in health throughout the entire hospital environment. Their impact may be enhanced as each card can be endorsed to show sponsorship by the individual hospital, using the small text area for a special hospital message and adding helpful information.
The standard bundle of PitWR poetry pamphlets suitable for a three doctor general practice is quite inadequate to meet the demand from NHS hospitals. Not only are patient flows heavier but waiting areas are numerous and widely dispersed. Requests for some 2000 or 3000 pamphlets per hospital are typical. Meeting such demand would rapidly exhaust PitWR's slender budget. PitWR therefore looks for a subsidy from the hospital to help cover part costs of their bulk supplies.
Under the PitWR for Hospital waiting rooms, PitWR offers to print special copies of each quarterly poetry card with information particular to the individual hospital. The lay out of PitWR poetry cards provides an information panel; this panel can be adapted by each Hospital to print its own news or message. The proposal would thereby produce poetry cards specific to each hospital, tuned to carry a special hospital message. The poetry card helps to relate the Hospital personally to the patient.
The scheme has been developed and piloted in two major hospitals. The poetry cards proved welcome by staff and popular with patients. Individual Hospital units request further supplies when their initial stock is exhausted, and each quarterly supply had been taken up by staff and patients.
A substantial number of poetry cards can be provided for each hospital quite economically as a run on from the main printing for General Practices. The costs are considerable reduced over those that would be incurred if the cards were designed and printed from the start by each hospital, while the hospital benefits from the editorial content of the poetry cards. Also with this arrangement, costs per card diminish rapidly as numbers printed rise.
To support the programme, a subsidy to cover costs is needed for the scheme to be self-funding. The amount of subsidy amounts to £500 for 1000 cards; £525 for 1500 cards; and, £550 for 2000. On this tariff, an annual subsidy of some £2,200 would ensure a supply of 2000 poetry cards specific to the hospital each quarter, or an annual 8000 in four issues over the year.
For the NHS administration, the scheme provides a chance to provide vital patient information while showing a human face of the NHS. For Hospital Friends, the scheme offers the opportunity to recruit new interest and to stimulate greater interest in the Friends' activities.
PitWR for Hospitals - Local Printing
As an alternative, PitWR for Hospitals offers to provide each hospital with camera ready proofs of each edition, again adapted to show the hospital's own message, so that they can print their own supply. A condition of this alternative is that the cards are printed on stiff card similar to that for PitWR standard print. This condition is necessary to preserve the brand image of PitWR. To cover editorial costs, a subsidy of some £125 a quarter or £500 annual is sought as a contribution to PitWR editorial and graphic design costs.
PitWR for Hospitals - Poetry Posters
A supplementary feature of the programme is a supply of poetry posters. These are available whether or not the poetry cards scheme is implemented. Hospitals are invited to suggest a poem or poems especially any of those published in Poems in the Waiting Room.
PitWR provides one copy each, on A4 scale with 14pt or larger text, of a batch of poetry posters. This A4 sheet acts as a master copy or template for production by the hospital of an adequate supply of its own posters. Each poster is endorsed by PitWR with "Sponsor Name of hospital". PitWR licences each hospital to reproduce the A4 sheets through photocopying, making as many copies as they wish for the hospital premises. The copyright position for each poem has been cleared for this use: PitWR offers formal indemnity for each in the batch of poetry posters. If necessary, the posters can be laminated by the hospital for longevity and for safety.
PitWR will also assist any Hospital, with copyright and the like who wish to publish poems not in the PitWR list. The PitWR for Hospitals poetry posters are free and complimentary to any hospital whether they take part or not in the poetry cards scheme.
For further information on Poems for the Hospital Waiting Room email email@example.com or write Michael Lee Executive Chairman PitWR PO Box 488 RICHMOND TW9 4SW for sample Poetry Cards and Poetry Poster.
NHS Report on Arts in Health
The NHS Review of Art and Health firmly endorses the importance of arts in health care. "There has been some debate about whether the NHS should invest in or be involved in arts and health, and in some cases this has made it hard to secure resources. We noted that historically in many cultures, arts, health and wellbeing were regarded as closely connected and complementary. This recognition, grounded in the understanding that health is a product of the whole person not just of medical treatment, lies at the heart of many of the successful approaches to engaging with the public and patients, as well as in providing positive support for staff."
It adds "In our view, spending on arts and health is and should be seen as a legitimate, integral part of health care and good staff management and support, and entirely appropriate for NHS activity and investment..."