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What Florence Nightingale taught us about distraction for recovery

Variety of form and brilliancy of colour in objects presented to patients are an actual means of recovery. Florence Nightingale, 1888

In the nearly 130 years since Florence Nightingale’s observations about the importance of objects of variety and colour in recovery, projects like ours have created places to put the observation into practice. As the evidence mounts that art and compassionately designed medical environments aid in healing and recovery, some of the artists commissioned to create works for the new building at Little France in Edinburgh are focusing on art and design as distraction.

Providing welcome distraction is an important aspect of the art and therapeutic design programme because it

  • enhances the patient experience of visiting and staying in hospital;
  • reduces patient stress
  • de-institutionalises spaces and allows for participation and personalization.

Distraction is a thread running through the work of over 30 artists on the programme and includes things like wall graphics that create soduku games, interactive bedside technology and multi-sensory therapy areas.

These works aim to contribute to the ongoing dialogue and contribute to best practice in creating a sense of place, helping people meet stress with dignity and create personalization through participation.

As the commissioned artists further develop their work, we will tell their stories and report on their progress on this blog. Subscribe to get weekly roundups of everything that’s new in the project and interesting around the world in the intersection of art, design and medicine.