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Page updated 26.7.2021
Arts, Health and Well-being

Arts, Health and Well-being

Arts and culture can improve our health and well-being in many ways. Turku University of Applied Sciences promotes the significance of art as part of a good life throughout the whole life course.

The research group Arts, Health and Well-being is a multidisciplinary group of experts and educators who work at The Arts Academy and at The Faculty of Health and Well-being at TUAS. The Arts Academy at TUAS provides wide range of Bachelor of Arts programmes in the field of arts and media: Fine Arts, Journalism, Media Arts, Music and Performing Arts. The Arts Academy has also several Master’s degree programmes such as Creative Well-being, Cultural and Media Entrepreneurship and Contemporary Contexts of Arts. 

The Faculty of Health and Well-being educates future professionals to work in the field of health care and social services in both Bachelor’s degree and Master’s degree levels (for example: emergency care, midwifery, nursing, occupational therapy, physiotherapy, public health nursing and social services).

The goal of the research group Arts, Health and Well-being is to develop education in the field of arts, health and well-being as well as strengthen contents, methods and good practices created in multiprofessional collaboration between professional artists, health care and social workers. The research group has participated in several projects aimed at improving the well-being of people in several target groups through means of art and culture.

For example, students of Social Services and Performing Arts have worked several years together with practical nursing students and teachers using art-based methods and community art. Another long line of development work is to support the use of music in hospital and health care services.

Arts, health and well-being is seen as a nationally important and fast developing field of expertise in Finalnd. Turku University of Applied Sciences is a significant development partner in this field both in the Southwest Finland, nationally and in the Nordic Countries. The research group Arts, Health and Well-being is an active promoter and coordinator of several networks in Finland and in the Nordic countries.  The group is open to new partnerships and initiatives concerning the development work in the field.

Since 2015 the research group has been administrating the national Arts & Health Coordination Centre project Taikusydän. Taikusydän is a multisectoral coordination and communication centre for activities and research among the field of arts, culture and wellbeing in Finland. Find out more about Taikusydän: https://taikusydan.turkuamk.fi/english/info/

The research group has also launched together with several Nordic partners a new open access journal, The Nordic Journal of Arts, Culture and Health in 2019. The journal provides a platform for publication and debate in the interdisciplinary field of arts and culture in healthcare and health promotion. The purpose of the journal is to contribute to dissemination of research, knowledge and practice experience in the arts, culture and health field. Find out more about the journal: https://nordicartshealth.turkuamk.fi/nordic-journal-of-arts-culture-and-health/

Master’s degree programme Creative well-being (60/90 ECTS)

A new multiprofessional Master’s degree programme Creative well-being was launched in January 2020. The programme is aimed to professional artists and social and health care workers who have already at least three years’ work experience and Bachelor’s degree. Creative well-being is run together by Arts Academy and The Faculty of Health and Well-being. Ten students from the culture and arts sector and ten students from the social and health care sector study together 1,5-2 two years (60-90 ECTS) to become specialists in the branch of Arts, Health & Well-being.

Creative well-bieng is the first Master Degree programme at Turku University of Applied Sciences, where Arts, Health and Well-being is the core content of studies. Training provides the social, arts and health professionals with the skills to develop the future social – health – arts working life from their own professional core competencies and networks. The education provides a broad range of expertise for a variety of social, artistic and health care professionals, development and co-ordination tasks, and their interfaces. The training leads to a Master's degree, which corresponds to a master's degree at a university level and gives the same qualification, for example, to public posts.

After the studies the student is able to:

  • perceive and specify the principles of the knowledge base of arts, health and well-being; concepts and key theoretical approaches
  • based on research data, justify the importance, impact and significance of arts and culture from the perspective of different customer groups
  • design, apply and develop creative and arts-based methods and approaches in different operating environments
  • work in multidisciplinary teams and environments
  • affect on the quality and accessibility of culture and arts services in the society
  • communicate within and out of the field of cultural well-being and participate in the discussion in the field
  • act as an expert and developer in the field of creative well-being.

Study Units for all the students:
Future Operating Environments 5 ECTS
The Process of Professional Growth as a Professional of Creative Well-being 5 ECTS
Creative Well-being as a Competence 5 ECTS
Contexts of Creative Wellbeing 5 ECTS
Development work methods and design 5 ECTS
Implementation and reporting of the development project 25 ECTS
Optional studies 10-20 ECTS

For social- and health care professionals only (longer education):
Expressive Arts in Creative Well-being 5 ECTS
Approaches of Drama and Music 5 ECTS    
Creative Well-being for Different Customer Groups 5 ECTS          
Culture and Arts in Improving Mental Health and Well-being 5 ECTS

Community Musician - Specialization Education (30 ECTS) 

Community Musician - Specialization Education (2017-2018 & 2018-2019) was aimed to experienced musicians who are interested to develop their practice in hospital and health care environments. The education was arranged together with two other Universities of Applied Sciences in Finland and it’s educational level was Master EQF 6-7. 

This unique education attracted 20 musicians from all over the country to specialize to work as musicians in hospitals and care environments, most commonly in elderly care. The education consisted of three study modules: Community Musician in Society (5 ECTS), Advanced Studies (15 ECTS) and Development Project (10 ECTS). The Advanced Studies consisted of three courses like Facilitating Participatory Music Activities and Group Processes, Enhancing Creativity in Group Activities and Music Creating Well-being in Communities. The education was partly financed by the Ministry of Education and Culture. 

“This was a very concrete programme, immersed the work of Musician in Hospitals. I feel that I learned very much about the work of hospital musicians.” – participant of the education

”This education was a very many-sided entirety. Practical work in hospitals and hospice was immensely important and educational for me. Through the studies my opportunities of employment and network became wider.” – participant of the education

Arts, Health and Well-being projects at TUAS

ARTHEWE - Multiform Pedagogy in Arts, Health and Wellbeing Education (2020-2023)

In the ARTHEWE project, five European HEI’s are developing higher education related to the field of arts and health. In each partner organization, the project will develop, in cooperation between the partners, study modules related to either social and health sector, well-being and health promotion or arts and culture curricula, joint degrees in these fields or other study modules.

The MOMU project (2015-2018): The main objective of Moving towards Multiprofessional Work, MOMU was to define and develop new multiprofessional working skills and environments for professionals in art and social work. These skills will respond to the needs of the European labour market in a rapidly changing society. The project was carried out together with partners from the UK, Estonia and Spain.

The Agency for Cultural Well-being (2015-2018) (Hyvinvoinnin välitystoimisto in Finnish) was a three-year-long EU-funded project that aimed to develop the field of participatory art services by bringing Finnish artists, cultural managers and professionals of social work and health care together. The Agency for Cultural Well-being offered two one-year-long courses for the professionals of cultural and healthcare sector. The project focused on productization, marketing, entrepreneurship and creative financial planning. The coordinator of the project was HUMAK University of Applied Sciences, TUAS being as one partner organization.

The MIMO project - Moving In, Moving On! (2010-2013) offered training for future and present professionals working with young people in the cultural, social and health care and youth work sector. The educational focus was in art-based methods, multiprofessional working methods and in the skills and knowledge needed when encountering and supporting young people. The project was carried out in co-operation with Estonian partners.


Other projects

Between 2009 and 2011, an ESR project focused on the development of correspondence between musical training and working life was undertaken as part of the Musicare network, where the first community music pedagogues received training. This was done in co-operation with the residential home Kotikunnas and the Turku University Hospital Pediatric Clinic. Additionally, a pilot study of a musical therapy training leading to a higher education degree took place between 2009 and 2013, where two students participated in the national Hymykuopat (Dimples) project by working at the interface of health care music and musical therapy at a residential home in Turku in 2011.

Our partnership with the Institute de Musique et Santé in Paris launched in 2009 and nourished the beginning of the Leonardo TOI funded project Music in Health Settings: training trainers which was implemented in 2010–2012.  The Finnish sub-project Music and well-being was implemented in co-operation with the Unit of Health Care at TUAS, Turku University Hospital and Kotikunnas. During the project, three music professionals were trained as pedagogues in hospital and health care music. The Care Music project was carried out with ERDF funding between 2011 and 2013, in conjunction with TUAS, Lahti University of Applied Sciences and the Sibelius Academy of the University of the Arts Helsinki. The purpose of the project was to study, develop and promote the use of music in hospitals and health care as a profession.

In 2010–2012, the Hyvä arki vanhukselle ('good daily life for the elderly’) project was implemented between the Unit of Health Care at TUAS and the Arts Academy. In the project, Master's degree students from the Unit of Health Care organised workshops where art students worked with senior citizens by utilising music, visual arts, etc.

In 2012–2013, the Kulttuurin vapaaehtoiset ('volunteers for culture') and Kulttuurin saavutettavuus ('availability of culture') functions, initiated by the Turku 2011 Foundation, were continued. The Arts Academy developed volunteer activities and sent volunteers to different events until the end of 2013. At the same time, the different levels of availability were developed in six different sub-projects. The Saavutettavuus ('availability') project saw the production of a multisensory circus performance, supported mental health rehabilitation with co-operation between visual artists and occupational therapists, developed available marketing and carried out accessibility surveys in cultural institutions, among other things.

The research group of Arts, Health and Well-being was also involved in the Kohtaamisia – Rohkeutta maahanmuuttajien työnhakuun taiteen keinoin ('Encounters – Courage for the job search of immigrants by means of art') project funded by the European Fund for the Integration of Third-country Nationals and implemented in 2014–2015. It helped unemployed immigrants in the middle of their integration process to identify their skills and gave them courage for the job search by means of art-driven, approachable methods. The development of cultural well-being work aimed at immigrants is continued in co-operation with the Faculty of Health and Well-Being in the Hundred apple trees – multicultural Finland project (2016–2018) funded by the Ministry of the Interior.

Development task of hospital and health care music at TUAS

The Arts, Health and Well-being research group studies, develops and promotes the applied use of art in different well-being contexts. The projects implemented in the development task of hospital and health care music work have built operational models and prerequisites for regular and continuous musical work in treatment and health care environments. The aim has been to profile the operations as a new type of job description for music professionals and as an effective part of nursing. Musical operations at different facilities are not simply meant to entertain; they have other, strong effects on the well-being of both the patients/residents and also the staff and families. This is realised in multiprofessional co-operation where music professionals can act on the basis of their basic task as a musician or a musical pedagogue.

Music professionals, educational experts and professionals in the treatment and health care industry have been involved in the development work. The educational piloting and international co-operation have been an essential part of the operations. Musical work in hospitals and health care is seen as an excellent part of multiprofessional co-operation in different operating environments.

The music and well-being section of the project focused on the development of correspondence between musical training and working life in the Musicare network, funded by the European Social Fund and the Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment for Southwest Finland, piloted systematic and continuous musical operations at the Turku University Hospital Pediatric Clinic and the residential home Kotikunnas. In the Music in Health Settings: training trainers project funded by Leonardo Transfer of Innovation, Institute de Musique et Santé in Paris collaborated with music professionals from Turku, Dublin and Manchester, training the educators of the industry. The ERDF-funded Care Music project, in turn, focused on musical work in hospitals and health care as a profession in co-operation with Lahti University of Applied Sciences and Sibelius Academy. In this project, musical work was implemented and analysed in a hospital and in residential homes. In addition, the organisation of the work and the earning was modelled and the educational path of musical workers was constructed.

Musical work in hospitals and health care covers not only music brought to patients, customers and residents in different operating environments by music professionals but also the personal relationship of hospital and health care personnel with music and encouraging the opportunities it presents. Supplementary training can be offered to hospital and health care industry personnel to enhance and strengthen their relationship with music: to see the opportunities of music and, for instance, to utilise singing in their work. Musically training personnel can have its influence on the occupational well-being of the entire health care community, the atmosphere of a hospital ward, the calmness of the customers and work stress.


Picture: TUAS/Kristiina Välimäki