Health & Aged Care Blog

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Arts on Prescription goes viral!

Over the past four days, thousands of people have been inspired by the participants of Arts on Prescription. Through our program, people over 65 with unmet wellness needs are prescribed art to help improve their quality of life.

Leigh Hatcher, who helped put together our video about Arts on Prescription asks: what's caught people's attention with this particular program?

Ron is 83. He is naturally left handed, but as a child his teachers forced him to write right-handed. They hit him, to make sure he wrote ‘correctly’.

Now, for the first time in his life, Ron is doing art – and also for the first time – using his left hand!

Ron, far left with his artwork.

Tony is a former prison guard who lives with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. He says he’s always wanted to be an entertainer and for the first time in his life he’s singing and playing guitar – and his audiences are loving it!

These are just two of many inspiring, transformational stories emerging from HammondCare’s Arts on Prescription program. It’s a program supported by funding from the Federal Department of Health, in partnership with the University of NSW. The idea is innovative and quite simple. Instead of doctors purely prescribing drugs to help people who are struggling as they age – they ‘prescribe’ the arts – in all their rich and enriching forms.

HammondCare’s video team dipped into four Arts on Prescription classes to get a taste of how it works – Music, Art, Movement and Pottery. Last Thursday we uploaded the story on Facebook – and since then it’s quite simply gone nuts!

After two days, the video had been shared by 2,000 people and Facebook was registering 80,000 ‘views’. After four days – it had exploded to 10,200 ‘shares’ and 400,000 ‘views’ and the numbers continue to blow out! Every time I take a look at the response I shake my head in amazement – what IS it about THIS video?

Professor Chris Poulos, the Chairman of HammondCare’s Centre for Positive Ageing and Care believes people are inspired, seeing such joy and creativity in people – not only the participants, but the artists as well. "Arts programs like this don’t replace traditional health care or medical treatment, but they can add an entirely new dimension to what it means to experience wellness. We are really humbled by the enthusiastic response to video from around the globe, inspiring many others to consider positive ageing alternatives."

According to Michelle Heldon, the Project Manager for Arts on Prescription, "It’s such a fun, happy video. It’s positive and emotional and really demonstrates the joy that being creative can bring to older people. I think it sends a message of hope and an honouring of elderly people and their stories."

Val, who’s also featured in the video, has experienced that sense of joy and hope. She had suffered two heart attacks, lung cancer and bowel cancer and hardly ventured out of her house. After joining the Arts on Prescription Movement class she’s ‘out and about’ again. Val says, "It’s getting me out of the house much more – enjoyable getting out of the house – not staggering to get out of the house. Any exercise or activity is good for me – stops me feeling story for myself!"

Over and over again the participants are gushing with enthusiasm about how their lives have been quite literally transformed by Arts on Prescription. And now hundreds of thousands of people around the world are sharing their infectious hope and joy.

Interested in the program? Contact the HammondCare Centre for Positive Ageing on 02 8788 3900, or by email, at You can read more about the program here.

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