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Kaz says that the project seems to ignite an interest in painting and art once the patients are discharged from hospital and go home.

Every week, a cheery trolley laden with paints, pencils, fabric and inspiration makes its way through The Repat Hospital’s Ward A Rehabilitation Unit and Ward 17 patients participate in art workshops.

Kaz’s project’s gives patients a chance to forget where they are for a while, and focus on something that gives them pleasure.
Kaz’s project’s gives patients a chance to forget where they are for a while, and focus on something that gives them pleasure.

It’s a welcome sight for patients, who enjoy a creative break from the hospital routine and treatment.

The Art Trolley is one of the projects being piloted as part of The Repat Foundation’s Veterans’ Health and Wellbeing Project, funded by the Australian Executor Trustees, Thyne Reid Foundation and The Ian Potter Foundation.

Art Trolley artist and art tutor, Kaz Pedersen, said the project brought a lot of joy to patients, many of them veterans, and provides obvious therapeutic benefits.

“It’s my experience that patients find art therapy a marvellous distraction from pain and boredom. It also seems to ignite an interest in painting and art once the patients are discharged from hospital and go home. Often patients will ask me what are the best paint and brushes to buy, because they plan to continue their art at home.”

Other arts projects being trialled as part of the Veterans’ Health and Wellbeing Project include:

  • With the assistance of a veteran artist, Ward 17 patients have engaged in art workshops producing painted pots and canvases.
  • A creative area has been established in the western lounge of Ward 17 for patients to use when they need a space for creative inspiration. The activities provide a respite from the mental health ward routine and environment.
  • Weekly music sessions in the Dementia Ward, Rehab Ward and garden of Ward 17, which provide an opportunity for inpatients to gather, request songs and have a sing-a-long. Performances have included country, rock, pop, jazz, ukulele and choral singing. Veteran Australian performer, John Swan, is a regular highlight for inpatients. The Repat Foundation CEO, Jan Chorley, said the pilot project was another way the Foundation supports veterans past and present.

“We know from international research that arts in a hospital setting can be very therapeutic for patients. It gives patients a chance to forget where they are for a while, and focus on something that gives them pleasure.”

“This project aims to improve the lives of hospital patients, particularly those in rehabilitation and mental health wards, through healing and ‘sustenance’ for the deeper, emotional needs of those who spend extended periods in a relatively impersonal hospital environment.”