The views inside the Jim Gay Unit at Ballarat Health Service's Queen Elizabeth Centre now feature a country homestead vista and splashes of colour.
Ballarat artist Shane Van Den Akker is working on two large murals, each measuring 3m x 1.2m, to change the outlook inside aged care unit and provide prompts for residents to reminisce and talk about their lives.
Mr Van Den Akker has been working on the first mural, which depicts an old farming cottage in country Victoria, in the unit's Lederman Hall where patients and staff have been visiting to watch the painting take shape and to offer suggestions and ideas for the work.
"There's been a really good response," Mr Van Den Akker said.
"I've done everything here on site, starting with a basic idea and then it just got added to. People have offered little suggestions and I add them .. just the other day someone suggested kangaroos," he said.
BHS nurse unit manager Karen Moran and clinical neuropsychologist Dr Kerrie Shiell had the idea for the murals several years ago and since then have been raising money for the creation of the murals.
Dr Shiell said art was important in the healthcare setting, particularly in aged care.
"When I think about art in the aged care space, it's a reminiscence thing. The images depicts country Victoria harking back to a time that a lot of our patients with cognitive impairment remember," she said.
"It provides comfort and familiarity, and improves the space because a lot of hospital environments are all the same, fairly stark and institutional ... but this is more homely, more appealing and more pleasant for the patients."
Art in hospitals also has other health benefits, and BHS has recently developed an Arts and Health Strategy to incorporate more art in hospital.
"We have a lot of older artists donate works for the ward, and schools exhibit artwork on the ward ... which gets patients and staff something new to talk about and reflect on, rather than it just about getting better and wellness. It gives them a different point of focus," Dr Shiell said.
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