The therapeutic power of music and arts is widely acknowledged and documented within the field of palliative and bereavement care. Research shows the effectiveness of music and arts as clinical therapeutic interventions offering psychosocial, emotional and spiritual support to dying people and their bereaved families (eg, Hilliard, 2005; O’Kelly & Koffman, 2007). However, the potential role of music and arts in promoting public awareness and healthier attitudes towards death and dying is still an under-developed area. This presentation focuses on the St Christopher's Health Promotion Project; arts-based collaborative projects which link the hospice with other local community groups. The aim of the Project is to introduce the hospice and its work to community groups in a creative and non-threatening way and to promote healthier attitudes towards death and dying. The St Christopher's Health Promotion Project started in 2005 (initially as a Schools Project), but over the last years it has been expanded into other community groups (church groups, pubs, etc) and it has been rolled out to care-homes (Hartley 2011, Tsiris et al, 2011). The St Christopher's Health Promotion Project has been considered as innovative, with significant benefits not only to patients and families, but also to the local communities, and has been influential at policy level (see DoH 2008). The cost effectiveness of the project, as well as its transferability has inspired the development of similar projects in many hospices, as well as other healthcare institutions, both nationally and internationally. This presentation provides an overview of St Christopher's Health Promotion Project, its philosophy and aims, as well as its outcomes and future prospects. Also, some preliminary findings from a formal evaluation of the Project are presented and questions regarding the potential impact of music and arts on the development of sustainable healthcare policies and practices are outlined.
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