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PROactive Management of Integrated

Services & Environments


Michael Whitaker


Empower staff and patients to engage in shared enquiry about how creativity might be part of an individual’s recovery journey.

Help patients recognise or rediscover their unique and innate creativity – building a sense of hope and empowerment.

Break down barriers between staff and patients through activities that are meaningful, enjoyable and fun.


Validating and supporting an individual’s creativity can be a vital part of a recovery journey. Creative Space is a set of structured activities that offer starting points for exploration. They provide an avenue for dialogue and interaction between staff and patients that are about something other than ill health. The activities have been designed to engage aspects of people that can flourish and are associated with wellness. In their darkest moments, being able to engage in a creative pursuit can provide respite from the challenges they face and dramatically improve the experience of being on a ward. Patients can decide whether they want to continue engaging or exploring a specific activity in more depth while on the ward. This has the potential to translate into a creative pursuit or a coping strategy post discharge.


The activities have been designed so that anyone regardless of their perceived artistic skill can begin to explore the world of sights and sounds from a creative stance. Each activity is presented as a question that prompts staff and patients to participate and notice how it impacts them. There is no expectation that if the activity is done in the “right” way so that a specific benefit results. Rather there is an acceptance that everyone is different and that everyone will have a different experience of each creative activity. The important thing is to notice what that experience is. Did it leave you feeling curious, bored, energised, calmer, soothed, concentrated, distracted, frustrated, or something else? These enquiries empower patients to explore ways that they can influence their experiences and wellbeing for themselves – that their recovery journey is something they can take ownership of, and how they can hope to shape their own futures. 


Create activity boxes, each with a worksheet explaining the “creative experiment”, materials needed for the activity and a series of personal quotes and reflections from service users about how the activity has related to their recovery. Include information so that patients can explore the creative activities in more depth. These could include book references, short courses available locally and other similar activities.

Risk assessment of all materials is required – all of the activities use non toxic widely available art materials (e.g.: pens, pencils, paper, glue, scissors.). No substances required should be under the scope of COSHH policy (Control of Substances Harmful to Health). Product Safety Data Sheets need to be sourced for all materials provided, and local risk assessment for each ward setting will need to be undertaken. This will need to consider risks presented by the use of sharps, ingestion (accidental or deliberate) of art materials and highlight the minimisation of risks possible by staff supervision of activities.

Staff training would be helpful. This would involve staff having experience of having tried the activities themselves prior to doing them with patients. This training would also stress the need for the activities to be about mutual enquiry that notices and validates all outcomes and responses to the activities, rather than judging outcomes as better or worse. An awareness of risk issues outlined above is required for staff using the activities.

Establish what budget is available for the provision of resources for using in the activities. This could include a number of books, all relatively low cost.

Use the evaluation sheet to prompt patients and staff to reflect on their experience and responses to the activity.

Top tip:

The ultimate aim is that the activities lead to meaningful, enjoyable and fun enquiry that staff and patients can engage in together. If something begins to not feel like this, then that’s alright. Everyone is different, it’s not that someone is doing the activity wrong, or they are wrong, it’s just that activity that is not right for them. Validate that it was good to have explored something new, and try something else.

 Creative Space

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