Mental health services for marginalised women
By Geraldine Esdaille,
My Churchill Fellowship in 2015 explored how digital technology is helping hospices deliver art therapy to enhance, extend or limit the care of people with a terminal illness
"With most people using smartphones and portable computers to connect to the internet, there is a shift in how health and social care services are delivered." - Michele Wood, Fellow
With most people using smartphones and portable computers to connect to the internet, there is a shift in how health and social care services are delivered. There are now over 300,000 apps for health and wellbeing available worldwide. Digital tools like apps and websites allow for self-monitoring of symptoms, access to trustworthy information and education, and interactions between patients and professionals located in different geographical or time zones. The NHS Digital Strategy recognises that better use of technology and digital resources can help meet the increasing number of people living for longer with multiple conditions.
As an experienced art therapist working at the Marie Curie Hospice Hampstead, I see patients using their smartphones and iPads in all these ways. Over the years I have become interested in how digital technology in art therapy can enhance, extend or limit the care of patients and their families living with terminal illnesses. Patients are choosing creative apps to convey their feelings in sessions, and for relaxation while waiting for appointments. And while there is evidence from other parts of the world of digital art therapy interventions to help with anxiety, for adolescents with cancer or people with autism, there is little being developed for digital art therapy in the UK.
My Churchill Fellowship in 2015 enabled me to learn how digital art therapy could help in hospices, especially for those receiving palliative care.
In the USA and Canada, I met colleagues in a variety of services and saw reasons for using technology in art therapy. I discussed which digital resources and processes were needed for adults and children with physical and learning disabilities, mental health conditions and cancer. I learned of new research studies and approaches required for successfully embedding digital practices. I considered the professional and ethical issues raised by digital technology.
Gathering this information is helping me to shape guidelines and resources for working with patients. It is also helping my work in training staff and students. I have contributed to the Digital Media Guidelines of the British Association of Art Therapists, and developed a curriculum for postgraduate arts therapies training at the University of Roehampton. Read my survey of digital art therapy in the UK.
My Fellowship experiences also resulted in me leading two recent international projects:
My own view is that digital art therapy has the potential to help palliative care, by extending resources to people unable to leave their homes, people seeking support at any time of the day or night, and people who require specialised interventions that meet their specific cognitive or physical needs. This requires an investment of time, money and interest from all healthcare professionals, to engage with service users to develop the NHS digital agenda through education, research and practice. I am pleased to be part of that progress.
The views and opinions expressed by any Fellow are those of the Fellow and not of the Churchill Fellowship or its partners, which have no responsibility or liability for any part of them.
By Geraldine Esdaille,
By Lorraine George,
By Sophie Redlin,