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The therapeutic power of color

Perfecting the art of using paint as a calming influence

Patients, families and staff at a hospital in Portugal are benefiting from the soothing appearance of a series of colorful therapeutic murals

Patients, families and staff at a hospital in Portugal are benefiting from the soothing appearance of a series of colorful therapeutic murals.

The calming creations are the result of an ongoing partnership between AkzoNobel and the Anouk Foundation, with the Centro Hospitalar do Oeste in Caldas da Raihna hosting the latest artistic collaboration.

The murals have been added to several rooms, corridors and waiting areas, using paint donated by the company’s Sikkens brand. The artworks help to create a welcoming environment, reduce anxiety and offer a calming atmosphere to patients and their families.

The project continues a partnership with the Foundation which began 12 years ago. Sikkens donates paint to the non-profit organization, which is dedicated to bringing color to the walls of all kinds of buildings, from care homes and psychiatric centers to hospitals and children’s homes.

The recent work in Portugal follows on from a similar project earlier this year, when colorful murals helped to brighten up 22 treatment rooms and eight patient rooms at a children’s hospital in Switzerland.

Commenting on the murals, the hospital’s Dr Luisa Preto says: “Once upon a time, there was this place. It was black and white, and children entered this ward with fear in their eyes. Then, one day, the Anouk Foundation came and transformed it. Now our walls are full of magic, color and stories. So for a change, when children enter the hospital, they get to us with a smile in their eyes and our corridors are full of happiness once more.”

Adds Vanessa von Richter from the Anouk Foundation: “We adore the quality of the colors. We did our first project in this hospital in 2009, and 11 years later it still looks like new. As the pigment is so smooth, the result is beautiful, and because the colors dry quickly we can work fast. People are always impressed by the Sikkens paint, so thank you to AkzoNobel for helping us accomplish this important project.”

Professional artists were invited to take part in the latest project, with the specific aim of de-dramatizing medical equipment and transforming them into “magical machines”. Another key objective was to illustrate a series of local stories and customs, while also highlighting the importance of good hygiene.

The results have been enthusiastically received by the hospital staff, with one of the emergency doctors even requesting that a character in the murals be named after him. As a result, a dog (called Nuno) is depicted as a doctor putting on a mask.

“As an employee, I’m proud that it’s in AkzoNobel’s DNA to contribute to communities all over the world,” says Alejandro Villar, the company’s Business Development Manager in Portugal. “The Anouk Foundation has given us the opportunity to make this happen and we were happy to support the project with our paint.”

It’s estimated that the murals will benefit around 25,000 patients who are treated every year in the emergency ward, as well their families, care givers and the hospital staff.

Let’s end with a story told by one of the nurses: “This kid came in with a head injury and was so scared. But then she got inside the department and simply said: ‘Oh, so beautiful’ and pointed to our walls. Then she jumped and ran all over our ward saying: ‘Oh, a flower. Oh that’s a banana. Ice cream!’ with the most amazing smile. That’s why the Foundation and this project are so important.”