Co-Designing a Creative Economy Healthcare Hub

Lead Research Organisation: University of the West of England
Department Name: Fac of Arts Creative Ind and Education


This follow on bid will investigate how arts & humanities research and practices of collaborating across sectors or disciplines can significantly contribute to healthcare innovation in the years to come. Building on the learning and insight developed across the four AHRC Creative Economy Hubs (REACT, Design in Action, The Creative Exchange and Creative Works London), this pilot study aims to explore the wider applicability and adaptability of the creative Hubs model to this important sector. For this pilot project, we will focus on challenges around dementia care and ageing populations, but in recognition that this is a test-bed for the broader health and wellbeing sector. The long-term goal of the project is to design a framework for a near-term creative economy Healthcare Hub, laying down recommendations for, and routes towards, its implementation.

Dementia represents a major challenge to the healthcare field. One in five people will get dementia, and the condition has been diagnosed in 36 million people worldwide, making it a problem of global significance. The effects of dementia are debilitating not only for the individual - with symptoms such as memory loss and mood changes - but can lead to social disconnection and marginalisation with wider consequences. The effects of dementia on friends and family are often devastating. Currently, there is no cure for dementia. Pharmaceutical interventions are possible yet expensive, and outcomes are modest at best with no reversal of symptoms currently possible. In contrast, there is a growing body of evidence that arts and cultural interventions offer a powerful approach to improving memory, thinking, social interaction, communication and quality of life in dementia sufferers. We believe it is necessary to further explore the role people's artistic, imaginative and emotional capacities have on long-term wellbeing, by developing effective ways for these creative capacities to remain strong years after the onset of dementia.

To these ends, our project team (made up of former Hub members in partnership with our creative economy lead, FACT Liverpool) will turn their attention to focus on the role of the arts, humanities, design, and creative technology in healthcare innovation. By working with stakeholders in the field (such as dementia researchers, caregivers and creative technology companies), we will identify the core challenges and opportunities in this field to co-develop a strategy that can take the field forward. By conducting deep sector scoping, enabling cross-sector workshops, delivering a voucher scheme for new collaborative partnerships, and investing in a national network of creative and academic partners, we will produce a body of work that can point the way towards an effective creative economy healthcare Hub.

Planned Impact

The project will create:

- new capacity in the healthcare innovation sector by aggregating many different disciplines and business sectors into one network. In this case the creation of a network to carry this work forward is itself a significant impact.
- new sites for the impact of Arts & Humanities research by focussing Creative Economy Hub learning at a site with cross RCUK funding potential.
- new routes to users and markets for creative business partners who have already gained healthcare innovation expertise through the Creative Econmy Hubs programme.
- a new income stream for lead creative economy partner FACT by positioning them as a national lead body for producing creative economy healthcare innovation.
- new opportunities for researchers to find impact opportunities in healthcare innovation.


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