The role of creative interventions in fostering connectivity and resilience in older people

Lead Research Organisation: Newcastle University
Department Name: School of Arts and Cultures

Abstract

This proposed project aims to understand how creative interventions help develop connectivity and resilience for older people. This will be achieved through critical reflection on the outcomes from a range of relevant projects across the Connected Communities portfolio such as community gardening, filmmaking, built environment, product design, digital media theatre, music, cultural learning and visual arts interventions for those with early stage dementia. Juxtaposing the results from different projects will result in innovative ways of thinking about resilience and propose solutions to issues raised by community partners.

Four seminars will be undertaken consisting of presentations, workshops, and breakout sessions. Synthesising learning points from across the Connected Communities portfolio will help draw together the diverse, yet shared issues. Equal Arts, the C.I. and main community partner will recruit a group of older people who will play a full part in the workshops and explore what resilience and connectivity means to them. Researcher participants will also be invited to bring along community partners to ensure discussion is grounded in their lived experience. Policy makers such as Arts Council England will also be involved and part of the management group to ensure that they are part of the process.

Planned Impact

The following will benefit from the research, directly or indirectly:

Older people who currently engage with the arts and those who do not;
Policy makers such as the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and equivalents in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland;
Arts Council England and their equivalents in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland;
Arts practitioners;
Gallery and museum practitioners, for example BALTIC and Beamish Museum;
Third sector organisations, Age UK Newcastle and North Tyneside, Equal Arts, the Quality of Life Partnership;
Medical profession (including academics, GPs, medical students and care staff);
Arts and health practitioner community;
Workforce development professionals and employers in the care sector working together to raise the quality of care
Carers working with older people.

They will benefit from the project in the following ways:

Increasing the effectiveness of public services and policy - this will be achieved through arts policy makers and practitioners having a greater understanding of the role of creative interventions in developing connectivity and resilience in older people informing practice and policy formulation. It is anticipated that the research will make an important contribution to spending decisions within cultural organisations. It will also better evidence the impact cultural practice and research can have on communities, using the language and methods most closely associated with central government and Treasury's Green Book (HMT 2003, O'Brien 2010). Gallery/museum partners will benefit in terms of greater knowledge of how to develop their programmes to foster resilience in older people. It envisaged that networking opportunities will lead to the development of future projects.

The involvement of researchers, community and voluntary organisations and policy makers all working together will contribute towards developing thinking between health and arts sectors on how engagement with the arts can be seen as a valid part health care. Charities and community groups will be able to use research findings for advocacy purposes. Providing the opportunity for community groups, charities, policy makers and academics to work together over four workshops will help the different sectors understand the requirements of the other(s) - for example, community groups will develop greater understanding of how to frame bids to fulfil policy requirements. Also of significance is the contribution to the evidence base that is required by government to demonstrate the value for money of investments in the arts.

Enhancing quality of life, health and creative output - older people will benefit through the development of creative interventions targeted towards developing connectivity and resilience. This work will contribute to the nation's cultural provision and the wellbeing of older people in the UK. It will facilitate the development of more cost-effective public policy and services. Wider participation amongst older people will reduce social isolation, enabling the development of social networks.

Research and professional skills - staff working on the project will develop which they could apply in all employment sectors. All participants will develop research and professional skills which they will be able to apply in all employment sectors. The mixture of presentations, break-out sessions and workshops will develop a range of skills and maximise the potential for all to contribute. It is hoped the four workshops will provide a safe atmosphere in which participants can untangle misconceptions, express a lack of understanding, or highlight problems.

It is envisaged that for the practitioners the impact will feed directly into their practice, for the wider arts community the impact will take a little longer, 12-18 months.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description Resilience a useful and relevant term for helping older people articulate as aspect of wellbeing. Cultural engagement contributes to the development of social networks and individual and community resilience.
Exploitation Route We edited and wrote a book published by Policy Press 'Resilience and ageing: creativity, culture and community' looking at the relationship between resilience and a range of creative interventions which was published December 2018.

The Director of Audiences and Engagement for Arts Council England notes how engaging with the seminar series has shaped his thinking around arts and older people. Please see other section.
Sectors Healthcare,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections

 
Description Please see section on Director for Audiences and Engagement noting how presenting at seminar has helped formulate arts and older people thinking.
First Year Of Impact 2015
Sector Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
Impact Types Policy & public services

 
Description Attended peer to peer session looking at developing arts and older people policy, convened by the Long Live Arts group at the City Hall, the Hague, The Netherlands. A report of the peer to peer session on Policy was used as input for the EU Manifesto on Arts and Older People which was drawn up in 2016 and presented during the Creative Dinner on April 29th 2016 in Brussels.
Geographic Reach Europe 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a advisory committee
URL http://www.longlivearts.eu/manifesto/
 
Description Philip Cave, Director of Audiences and Engagement at Arts Council England
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
Impact Philip Cave, Director of Audiences and Engagement describes impact on organisation below: You invited me to one of the seminars you ran for your research project focused on older people and I spoke about current and planned activity at the Arts Council. The thought processes that you brought to the day helped my thinking more generally - I remember you rightly pointing out that the data I quoted on engagement levels by age was misleading - people approach to stop engaging quite dramatically from 74 but that doesn't mean the next wave of people who turn 74 will necessarily stop. It could be that the baby boomers will continue engaging longer than the generation before and in fact we can see that happening for the age group 65-74. So - we still have a policy of focussing on people 75 plus but are watching to see if the patterns change as we get annual data in from Taking Part. I also recall sharing with delegates the fact that we were sure if our arts and older peoples work should continue as a stand along area of work or be absorbed into a broader policy around arts and health. You had been working with a group of older people as an advisory panel and they were there as delegates. I remember one woman getting quite emotional and saying - I don't want it to be about health - I want to live. I have quoted this numerous times as we refine our thinking internally and I can honestly say it helped settle the argument once and for all. We are focussing now on ways of giving older people as many opportunities to experiences arts and culture as we can. We are also confident this approach can have health benefits for older people and we aren't ignoring that; but the session helped me to move away from a medical outcomes driven approach - at least when it comes to prioritising ACE funding. Interestingly we are now speaking to Public Health England and again this stand point is helping us negotiate those conversations. So I can that this opportunities helped to shape out policy work in this area and the shape of our future strategic lottery funds for arts and older people which will be launched in 2016.
 
Description Asked to give keynote at Arts and Health Australia's annual conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Approximately 200 delegates attended the conference, including the Governor of Sydney. The conference organiser, Margret Meagher, felt it was invaluable having the UK perspective in terms of advocating the funding of arts and health work in Australia. Networking at the conference sparked useful conversations about possible exchanges and the development of learning programmes. I was awarded the Arts and Health award for excellence in research.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://www.artsandhealth.org/
 
Description Conference panel 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Seminar run in conjunction with the ILC-UK (Sept 2018). Fifty people from policy, practice and academia attended. The panel discussion sparked questions and discussion afterwards and the co-founder of the Campaign to End Loneliness approached me to develop some work around cultural engagement and reducing social isolation in older age. An MA student approached me to supervise a PhD.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Conference paper presented at the CRESC Annual Conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Approximately 30 academics and practitioners attended talk, which prompted discussion afterwards.

Resulted in further discussion with academics around the ideas of social connectivity and older people's wellbeing. Academics in the audience were able to invite PhD students and other colleagues to the Resilience Seminars.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Personally asked as a key note speaker to the conference 'Long Live the Arts conference', The Baring Foundation, October 2014. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact I was invited as part of an expert panel/ dialogue on the conference theme held in London. The conference looked at different approaches across Europe in older people's participation in the arts. The conference included policy makers from the Netherlands and professional arts practitioners working in this field to share knowledge, experience and information.

The discussion from the conference will inform two further events: the big European conference Long Live Arts on 21 and 22 May 2015 in The Hague, and the adoption of the EU convention on Older People and Cultural Participation in May 2016 in Brussels.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://www.longlivearts.eu/home/working-conference-long-live-arts-october-2014/
 
Description Presented paper at the Arts and Health Australia conference (November 2018) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The presentation led to arts and health practitioners enquiring further about the research.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Symposium about book at the British Society of Gerontology's annual conference (July 2018) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact I was approached by an academic to be a Co-Investigator on a Horizon 2020 application; I have collaborated further with them and will be writing a paper (this activity has been funded by Cost Action). A Voluntary Sector professional talked to me further about the concept of resilience and synergies have emerged in their programme which aims to reduce the social isolation of older people.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Talk to lifelong learning organisation 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact 40 older people learners from the Joseph Cowen Centre for Lifelong Learning organisation attended talk, which prompted debate afterwards.

Audience members looked up our work and emailed me. Audience members offered to become research participants for a focus group exploring ideas around resilience. Feedback from the talk was positive and I have been asked to return to talk.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Was invited to participate in a peer to peer session on arts and older people policy at Long Live Arts, The Hague, The Netherlands. Also presented paper at conference. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Was invited to participate in a peer to peer session on developing arts and older people policy which took place on May 20th at the City Hall, the Hague. A report of the peer to peer was used as input for the EU Manifesto on Arts and Older People which will be drawn up in 2016 and presented during the Creative Dinner on April 29th 2016 in Brussels. Also, approximately 80 arts practitioners, academics and arts policy professionals attended a talk I gave at the conference and the discussion afterwards focused on how we measure the value of cultural engagement in Health terms.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://www.longlivearts.eu
 
Description Workshop 1: Community-led design 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact 35 arts practitioners, older people research participants, academics participated in workshop involving presentations, break-out sessions and practical activities - discussion was stimulated which foregrounded ideas around the concept of resilience and community-led design.

The older people research participants reported wanting to become more involved with the project.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Workshop 2: Everyday Creativity 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact 35 academics, arts practitioners and older people research participants attended workshop which sparked questions and discussion afterwards around the role of creativity in resilience.

As P.I. I arranged a separate focus group with the older people research participants.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Workshop 3: Policy and Practice 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact 30 arts practitioners and academics attended workshop where they learnt about Art Council England's development in the area of older people's work. Two projects funded by The Baring Foundation and Arts Council England under their 'Arts and Older People's Programme' shared developments and challenges. A representative from Liverpool Museums' 'House of Memories' programme also described the growth of the programme, including pressing for support from policy and the development of their training programme to spread their methods.

Developed a greater dialogue with Arts Council England which may help to inform future evidence-based policy. Practitioners became aware of different Arts Council England funding steams that might be applicable to their own work. I attended a workshop led by a participatory drama company who attended the workshop so this may lead to collaboration.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014