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Health & wellbeing

The Covid-19 pandemic has affected everyone, but the strain on frontline healthcare workers has been immense, leaving a lasting impact on their mental and physical health.

We believe that the historic North Wing, as well as delighting, inspiring and informing the general visitor, should be a place where Hospital staff can rest, recuperate and access a range of activities to aid psychological recovery.

It is our aim to show how a heritage hub in these beautiful historic spaces can offer both a restorative change from the clinical environment of the working Hospital and also act as a bridge between past and present for staff and visitors alike. Read on…

Bringing together health & heritage

Barts Health NHS Trust places an emphasis on the importance of staff health and wellbeing, not only for their benefit, but because happy, healthy and supported staff provide better outcomes for patients too.

The interplay between heritage, culture and wellbeing is at the heart of our plans, and the staff of the Hospital are joining us in developing innovative ways to embed heritage in health practice, through a holistic approach to staff and patient care.

Images: Sam Whittaker

“Restoring this wonderful historic building means its beautiful historic spaces can become places of healing, contemplation and inspiration for our staff, patients and visitors in the future.” 

Professor Charles Knight, CEO, St Bartholomew’s Hospital

Charles Knight

Heritage hub for wellbeing in the West Pavilion

Supporting healthcare workers and their families

Rooms in the West Pavilion of the North Wing will be converted into a hub for wellbeing to provide urgently needed facilities for the 2,500 Hospital staff working on site. These currently under-used spaces will host programmes that aid psychological recovery for staff and will provide places away from clinical settings for rest and reflection, inspiration and team-working. Hospital staff are at the heart of developing this element of our project. 

The hub is likely to offer relaxation areas for individuals to gather and unwind, smaller private rooms for professional services such as psychological care, spaces for creative and innovate thinking in teams, and larger spaces for group exercise and physiotherapy. 

Many staff members have immense pride in being part of this unique institution and want to share it with their families. An important element of our approach is to develop our activity programme together with Hospital staff to share stories and themes that reflect their experiences and explore the lives of the people running throughout Barts’ long and rich history. 

A reassuring place for patients and their families 

Almost 300,000 patients receive care at Barts annually, the large majority from across the boroughs of east London. The reach of the heritage wellbeing programme will also extend to their families and companions, meaning that a large and diverse group of people could potentially benefit from the restoration of the North Wing.

There is evidence that throughout the pandemic there has been a general increase in anxiety levels among the population overall. It is also clear that the most vulnerable in society, such as disabled adults and those with a health condition, have experienced greater levels of anxiety, so targeted work to support the wellbeing of these groups will be an important part of our programmes. The historic spaces that will be opened up will offer places for relaxation and stimulation in gaps between appointments or during long in-patient stays, and a much-needed distraction from experiences that, for most, are very stressful. 

Activities will take inspiration from the art, architecture and stories of these historic spaces – from the messages reflected in the Hogarth paintings, to the sense of community and connection derived from the Hospital’s long history and continuing legacy.

St Bartholomew's Hospital site plan showing North Wing and west pavilion
St Bartholomew's Hospital site plan showing North Wing and west pavilion
Cutaway showing the interiors of the North Wing and their uses
Cutaway showing the interiors of the North Wing and their uses
Image: Donald Insall Associates
  1. West Pavilion A hub for heritage-inspired wellbeing and support programmes for hospital staff, their families and visitors.
  2. Great Hall Open to the public, home to a dynamic programme of public events, professional conferences and cultural performances.
  3. East Pavilion Housing the Hogarth Stair alongside new spaces for changing exhibitions and displays, educational and participation programmes.

“Cultural heritage as a physical resource can play a critical role for community cohesion, collective action and in shaping human health and societal wellbeing.”

Heritage and Society report, 2020 (Historic England)

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