There is no doubt that healthcare is in crisis around the world.
Part of the reason for this crisis is the high rate of burnout amongst healthcare professionals – it has a devastating impact on the quality and availability of healthcare. Our formal research projects, therefore, have focused on the value of creative encounters in promoting health and wellness for health care workers.
2018: Deepening Connection for Healthcare Workers: Creative Workshops In Movement and Touch (data currently under analysis; see video In-Between Heartbeats: discovering your wild)
Based on self-care workshops from the past 15 years, both in Africa and the United States, we have identified two things that healthcare workers enthusiastically want and need: more training in movement-related healing modalities such as yoga and Qi Gong; and more awareness and technique on the use of touch whether it be for a standard medical examination or an emotionally charged situation with patient and family. These newly-designed workshops comprise an innovative, experiential, arts-based curriculum for healthcare workers focusing on movement and touch; they develop in complexity over time and encourage ongoing commitment from participants and the institutions in which they work.
2014: Creatively Caring: Effects of Arts-Based Encounters on Hospice Caregivers in South Africa
Repar, P. A., & Reid, S. (2014). Creatively Caring: Effects of Arts-Based Encounters on Hospice Caregivers in South Africa. Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, 47(5), 946-954.
International literature and experience suggest that arts-based encounters can be effective in reducing stress and burnout in health care workers. Are these principles universal? Are they as applicable and effective in resource-constrained situations in Africa as in other parts of the world? We describe the impact of creative and arts-based encounters on a group of hospice caregivers at South Coast Hospice in KwaZulu Natal. An experienced facilitator built a caring and trusting relationship with the participants over a three month period through a variety of means, including a singing and songwriting intervention specifically designed to empower and give voice to the hospice caregivers, most of whom were Zulu women. We documented the process through several rounds of interviews, extensive field notes, and audio recordings. This article is a reflection on the experience and draws from the interviews, correspondence among researchers, field notes, and a performance piece written by the facilitator one year after completion of the study. We found that the songwriting and other creative activities of the engagement provided affirmation and acknowledgment of the caregivers as well as an opportunity to release stress, grief, and pain. They experienced changes in terms of hope and freedom both for themselves and their patients. The conceptual themes that emerged from the interviews with the caregivers were interpreted in terms of their inherent cultural assets, a release of agency, a sense of revelation, and transformation. The expressive arts can have a significantly beneficial effect on hospice workers and their patients, and clinical engagement can be enhanced through creative encounters, even in resource-constrained situations. If such creative processes were to be promoted among a wider group of health workers, daily routine work in health care could be not just a repetition of well-rehearsed utilitarian rituals but rather a series of creative and transformative encounters. J Pain Symptom Manage 2014;47:946e954. ! 2014 U.S. Cancer Pain Relief Committee. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
2007: Stress Reduction for Nurses Through Arts-in-Medicine at the University of New Mexico Hospitals
Repar, P., & Patton, D. (2007). Stress Reduction for Nurses Through Arts-in-Medicine at the University of New Mexico Hospitals. HOLISTIC NURSING PRACTICE., 21(4), 182-186.
Artists-in-medicine at the University of New Mexico help nurses remember and renew the values that originally attracted them to the field of nursing. Exploring their nascent creativity through massage, yoga, art, music, and writing, nurses are encouraged to reconnect emotionally and spiritually with themselves, their patients, and fellow healthcare workers.
Healing Arts and Creative Encounters for patients and families, as well as staff and providers at The University of New Mexico Hospitals
Healing Arts Certificate Program for undergraduate and graduate students, healthcare professionals, and the community-at-large. One of the six courses offered is an optional study abroad course in southern Africa
Various projects to evaluate the program as a whole as well as specific interventions for specific populations
Projects to promote and develop arts and health initiatives in local and regional community organizations and healthcare facilities
Work with various international organizations and universities to promote and develop arts and healthcare programming in other countries; several projects currently underway in southern Africa