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Arts for Health

Copy of Twin Vision websiteAs a patient or visitor coming to Alder Hey, there are many different ways to experience our arts for health programme. We offer a varied programme of enjoyable arts activities which are carried out in the wards or waiting areas. These include dance, music, comedy, arts, storytelling, creative writing, digital arts, animation and puppet making.

“The arts lift the mood on the ward to one of light-heartedness and fun. It includes everyone and excludes no one. Everyone I have met through the Arts for Health programme has been passionate about their art form and wanted to make the patient’s and family’s stays the best it can be. Their passion is then shared with the patients, families and staff making a big difference. More please!”  – Parent of patient

There are lots of opportunities to get involved and we make our activities as interactive as possible. We work with a team of highly experienced professional artists who are delivering projects which aim to make the hospital as welcoming as possible and your experience as a patient very special. Our arts programme in Alder Hey has been recognised regionally and nationally for its quality and its focus on the patients. It is much easier to give examples of what we have been doing recently and many of these projects are still carrying on.


Animation and arts at Alder Hey Children's HospitalThe hospital has a long standing partnership with ‘Twin Vision’, a media charity specialising in projects that develop skills in photography, film, animation and audio.

In 2014, Twin Vision completed a major ten month project on the Oncology unit, working with patients and their families to create an animated film which will support other patients undergoing radiotherapy treatment. This unique film has been helping patients overcome their anxieties about having radiotherapy and is proving to be a great success:

“I enjoyed creating the characters and was happy to have this opportunity as I forgot about having treatment and about what’s going to happen in the near future.  I like making and sewing the designs into the actual characters.” Oncology patient

During 2015, Twin Vision worked with our dialysis patients to create a number of animated films that explored their ideas about the new hospital and what it might be like. A special film premiere for patients and their families was held in December to showcase the films and celebrate the patients’ creativity and hard work. All participating patients received an Oscar statuette for their efforts!

Why not watch some of our patients’ work on Youtube?

In 2016, Twin Vision once again worked with our Oncology Unit, this time to create a “Welcome to 3B” film which could be used by patients and their families coming onto the Unit for the first time. The film covers all aspects of life on the ward from a patient’s perspective, from the ward chefs preparing meals to activities in the school classroom.

Patients were involved in all aspects of making the film; in December, we held a special film premiere to celebrate the children and young people’s achievements which was attended by over 150 people!

As well as the film above, you can also watch the accompanying documentary on Vimeo.


We have an extensive music programme running throughout the hospital.

Musician Georgina Aasgaard, a professional cellist with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, is our resident musician, working with patients across all areas of the Trust. We know music is extremely effective in creating a positive environment on the wards, and Georgina works with our patients on music making sessions.

“Iwan was lucky enough to have a cello player before his visit to theatre yesterday. It was really relaxing and soothing for him (and his parents) under the circumstances! These art forms need to continue as they are so good for the children’s welfare.” Mum of patient, Neurosurgical Ward

Musician Katie with patientIn 2015, we received funding from the Youth Music Fund to deliver a music project in collaboration with Live Music Now, who have a distinguished track record and national reputation in working with people who have been traditionally excluded from live music programmes. Our Musical Mentoring project has enabled us to bring new musicians into the hospital and in turn, work with a greater number of patients.

Four young musicians from Live Music Now worked in four distinct areas of the hospital to support patients’ musical development and inspire them during their stay in hospital. The project inspired children and young people to become more actively involved in music during their stay at Alder Hey. The project culminated in a celebration event where many patients and families joined us for a special concert and we even had a patient who performed her own composition with the professional musicians.

Cascade Music at Alder Hey in the ParkThanks to further funding from the Lottery’s Awards for All programme, the Wallace and Gromit Children’s Charity and Youth Music Fund we can continue this important work throughout 2017.

We are also working with the group Cascade Music who throughout 2016 and 2017 are delivering a twelve month music residency on a number of wards, supported by Arts Council England.

Performance space at Alder Hey in the ParkPerformance space

In addition to our music programme on the wards, Alder Hey in the Park now has a designated performance area within the main atrium where we can showcase live musical performances from musicians and performers. Bringing live music to our atrium has been a fantastic addition to our arts programme and is being enjoyed by visitors and staff alike.


Small Things website

We have a long standing partnership with ‘Small Things Dance Collective. Their groundbreaking project ‘From Where You Are’, explored dance creation in a children’s healthcare setting and most notably, its impact on patients’ experience of pain. Their child centred approach toward based movement improvisation sessions has been recognized nationally and attracted interest from both dance and health professionals.

This project cultivated the practice assimilated during a pilot project run between 2008 and 2009, and expands the work through research, artist development and interdisciplinary performance.

Sessions were led by the patients who are very imaginative in experimenting and creating their own movement. During and after the movement sessions, pain levels were assessed using established clinical methods and significant reductions in pain were recorded.  The children, young people, their families and staff were also invited to write, speak or even draw their observations about the experience.

My legs feel lighter, I will use this every day.” Orthopaedic Patient

This project won the inaugural NHS England Excellence in Participation: Children and Young People in March 2014.

Taking-FlightSmall Things have since developed this project further: their new programme, ‘From There to Here’, takes nature and the outdoors as its starting point for dance and movement, utilising the new location for Alder Hey in the Park. Their work culminated in a spectacular dance performance called ‘Taking Flight’ which was performed throughout the hospital in May 2016. The inspiration for this piece was theme of transition, the move from the old hospital into the new and the birds in our spectacular artwork, Roost.

We are grateful to Arts Council England, Awards for All and PH Holt for the funding of the Small Things Dance Programme.

We are once again working with MDI on a programme of movement and dance to support our patients with asthma and other respiratory conditions. Run regularly since 2013, the programme has seen patients attend regular dance sessions which have had a beneficial effect on both well being and for some, their lung function and capacity. The programme will resume in spring 2016.

“I learnt to control my asthma a better way.” Asthma Patient

Body of Light

Body of Light was the inaugural arts for health project in the new children’s hospital, Alder Hey in the Park. We were delighted to be able to hold this innovative project, working closely with dancer and choreographer Darren Pritchard and digital artist Marcel Lenormand. The project was held for seven day over a two week period, and was based on the Neuromedical Ward, working directly with children and young people who have experienced brain injury or who have congenital brain conditions.

The project fused dance and movement with the latest digital technology, where dance movements were captured through a sensor and then projected onto the wall, creating an array of colours, shapes and light effects that mirrored the dancers movements exactly. Children and young people were able to express themselves creatively in front of the sensor, inspired by the visual effects they were making, with even the smallest of movements captured and projected in spectacular fashion.

Visual Arts

Alder Hey 'All about us' project with Tate LiverpoolAll About Us was a joint project between Tate Liverpool and Alder Hey Children’s Hospital that engaged children, young people, teachers and hospital staff in exploring archival materials from Tate and Liverpool Medical Institution archives. The Project ran for eight months, during which time Harriet Hall (Lead Artist) and Michaela Swan (Trainee Project Manager), worked with patients, families, hospital, local schools and communities to create online learning resources. The theme of Transition from old to new was the starting point for activities, which connected to the history of the hospital, artistic practice, and everyday life.

An exhibition of the artwork created by the children and young people was held at Tate Liverpool during December 2015.

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