Art Care at St. Martha’s Regional Hospital

I’m Rachel Power, and I have been the Artist in Residence at St. Martha’s Regional Hospital since February 6, 2017.


  • As the visual artist in residence at St. Marth’s Regional Hospital, I work directly with patients and their families in making, viewing and reflecting on art in both one-to-one and small group settings. My intention is to offer art activities to both individual patients and small groups exploring countless ways in which visual arts and storytelling can enhance our health – of the body, mind and spirit. The art in healthcare experience has a positive impact on patients by aiding in their physical, mental, and emotional recovery, including relieving anxiety and decreasing the perception of pain. Art can serve as healing tool, reducing stress and loneliness and providing opportunities for self-expression.

General description of program elements/activities/interventions

  • I spend most of my time with patients, especially in the Oncology, and Geriatric, Ambulatory and Rehabilitation and Mental Health. However, I also work with loved ones of patients. Normally, loved ones will join in with the patient who is participating, but there are also times when a loved one is looking for a break, a distraction or a ‘caring for the caretaker’ moment. I have worked in PCU on occasion, and when I began at the hospital, I worked a great deal in the Transitional Care Unit, which has been transformed in the Palliative Care Unit.
  • This Program helps to foster caring and authentic relationships with patients and their loved ones by taking the time to talk to them directly and by making art together. I also make time to speak formally and informally with staff in order to get important details on physical abilities and limitations of patients. Staff will also let me know if someone is depressed or lonely, and we try to rally these patients to join in, even as a spectator. This communication is extremely helpful in my practice. By getting to know patients, I am better able to research and create art projects that focus on their interests and abilities.
  • Since this program began, there have been a host of people comment to me that they have witnessed the enormous value and transformative power of visual arts in building and maintaining holistic health of both the patients and their loved ones. We have had great support from the Hospital Auxiliary and from the numerous volunteers who I have been so fortunate to have.
  • Art activities include: acrylic paint on canvas, watercolours, seasonal crafts, origami, wall displays, colouring pages, drawing, wire sculpture, miniature furniture building, using art apps on the iPad, poetry, gardening and more.


  • I have had a total of six volunteers in two years. I normally have two helping out on alternate days.
  • There have been a total of nine people attending the art in oncology. There can be anywhere from one attendee and up to seven at a time on any given Wednesday.
  • Between TLC, GARU, Mental Health and PCU, I have estimated that I have worked with approximately 350 patients and loved ones in these two years. Because some patients and loved ones are repeat participants, I don’t have exact numbers at this time.