“By Heart” – how an art project improved patient and nurse experiences on an acute cardiac ward

Mrs Georgia Headley1, Jennifer Codee1

1THS, Hobart, Australia


Ward 2D at the Royal Hobart Hospital has lost all natural sunlight due to the construction of K Block. This has had a negative impact on mood and morale for staff, patients and visitors.

2D clinical nurse educators and nursing staff collaborated with Inscape (a not for profit arts health organisation that works in partnership with the RHH to support art programs in the health care setting) to enliven the space with the “By Heart Project” through art and music.

Patients and nurses were encouraged to make anything they liked to creatively express what they knew “by heart”, a theme in keeping with our ward’s core business, cardiac care. This included one-on-one art making with patients, resulting in several art pieces involving moving stories of the patient’s lives which had a positive impact on nursing care provided to the patients.

By improving the aesthetics of the space through personalised art making and the acquisition of suitable uplifting art work in the rooms, patients and nurses reported improved levels of wellbeing.


Georgia is a Clinical Nurse Educator for Cardiac Services at the Royal Hobart Hospital. She has over 15 years of experience as a cardiac nurse and has also worked as a Clinical Facilitator for student RNs for the University of Tasmania. She is currently Secretary for the Australian Resuscitation Council – Tasmanian Branch.

Jennifer completed her Bachelor of Nursing at the University of Tasmania in 1996. Cardiology and cardio-thoracics have been the specialties that she has worked in most consistently over that time due to its ever changing, unpredictable and rewarding outcomes. Jennifer currently works as Clinical Nurse Educator for Cardiac Services at the Royal Hobart Hospital. She is passionate about a holistic approach to wellbeing for both patients and staff.