Using the Arts in Healthcare Education – Olwen Minford, Churchill Fellow

Categories: Education, People & Places, and Research.

Arts-based interventions are increasingly being used to train healthcare workers at both undergraduate and postgraduate level to improve patient communication and compassion.

Psychotherapist and bereavement counsellor Olwen Minford (CF 2014) has been using arts in healthcare, education and therapy for more than 20 years in NHS and voluntary settings.
Olwen originally practised as a nurse internationally and became interested in how other countries use the arts in healthcare and education programmes at undergraduate and postgraduate level.
“The impact of my Fellowship has been a leavening one and a raising agent to my work.”
– Olwen Minford, Fellow

Following her Fellowship in 2014, Olwen became a contributor to the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Arts, Health and Wellbeing and the subsequent inquiry report, Creative Health: The Arts for Health and Wellbeing.

This research is now a formative resource of evidence-based practice across the UK.

Olwen has also published a chapter in Spirituality and Hospice Care in 2017, detailing how a psychotherapist might use the arts to alleviate spiritual pain.

Olwen has led various initiatives to promote the use of the arts in healthcare education, including running workshops to enable staff to look at the taboo around death and to improve communication with patients.

In 2015, Olwen ran a workshop at the Dulwich Picture Gallery for end-of-life care staff to help improve communication around death and dying.

Olwen has been involved in leading a collaboration with the London Arts in Health Forum to introduce arts activities into primary care practices and networks.

The aim of the programme is to encourage staff to apply creative activities to their own professional development, and for them to become advocates for such activities in their workplace. This will then allow improved training and a better understanding of how arts and health activities can be a core part of the support offered by primary care and the NHS Long Term Plan.

Olwen’s Fellowship explored improving communication training and compassionate care using arts-based methods in Australia and the USA.

Olwen says, “The impact of my Fellowship has been a leavening one and a raising agent to my work. It has allowed me to be recognised as an arts in healthcare practitioner and has authenticated the role of arts in healthcare, which was not taken very seriously ten years ago.

Olwen Minford



The views and opinions expressed by any Fellow are those of the Fellow and not of the Churchill Fellowship or its partners, which have no responsibility or liability for any part of them.


Apply now for a Churchill Fellowship focused on palliative care

Are you passionate about improving palliative and end of life care? Would you like to explore new ideas and different approaches from around the world to achieve this? Applications open between 13 September and 22 November for Churchill Fellowships focused on palliative and end of life care, run in partnership with the Burdett Trust and Marie Curie.

This lifechanging opportunity funds you to spend up to two months discovering new ideas and best practice from leading practitioners anywhere in the world and supports you to apply that learning in your community or sector and make change happen in the UK.

Churchill Fellowships are open to all adult UK citizens regardless of age, qualifications or background. The international research can be undertaken in person through travelling, or online from the UK. For details and to apply please visit

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