Optimising cultural provision to improve older people's wellbeing through social prescribing in the context of COVID-19: Realist review and evaluation

Lead Research Organisation: University of Oxford
Department Name: Primary Care Health Sciences

Abstract

In recent years, cultural institutions have supported public wellbeing (e.g. increasing offers of activities and volunteering opportunities) and can be considered 'community assets' that are central to social prescribing. Social prescribing aims to empower people to address 'non-medical' challenges (e.g. isolation, anxiety, low mood) that affect how they feel physically and psychologically. The NHS has seen the introduction of link workers, employed to work in GP practices to facilitate social prescribing by connecting people to community assets (e.g. groups, organisations, charities). This might include connections to cultural institutions, which can ameliorate social isolation and give people a focus away from their worries. The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting what the cultural sector can offer, at a time when significant mental and/or social consequences of the crisis are anticipated, especially among older people. From the outset, this population was identified as 'at risk' from the condition itself and responses to it, including extreme isolation, especially if unfamiliar with online communication. Our research will explore how cultural institutions adapt to support older people's wellbeing. This will allow us to provide recommendations on being 'referral-ready'[1] cultural institutions for social prescribing for older people in the context of the current pandemic and future ones. We will use a realist approach to explore what works, for whom, why and in what circumstances. We will synthesise existing evidence to develop a programme theory on how cultural institutions might be best mobilised and engaged to support older people's resilience during and after the pandemic. We will refine this programme theory by testing it through further data collection: interviews with older people/cultural institution staff and survey with link workers.
 
Description Our research has been developing an emerging theory as to how cultural environments can support older peoples health and well-being through social prescribing. From this preliminary work, we found that some of the key elements in the passage to the cultural centre are to focus on 1) messaging, 2) building partnerships and 3) offering adaptability. Once people have recognised the cultural environment as an offer to support their wellbeing, the types of benefits include the environment being distracting, a way of connecting and building networks and a sense of self-growth.
Exploitation Route We have been able to refine our emerging theory and understand how this can be applied in cultural environments.
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy,Creative Economy

URL https://socialprescribing.phc.ox.ac.uk/research/projects/social-prescribing-for-older-people-in-the-time-of-covid-drawing-on-the-cultural-sector?ref=image
 
Description It is still too soon to describe the non-academic impacts of the findings. However, it is worth noting that we have had some important non-academic impacts from the set up of our research. This includes gaining new extensions of our networks primarily through our cultural collaborators. Through these networks, we have built professional relationships with colleagues from the cultural sector across the world. We hope that we will build on these relationships for this research project and forward our network to future research proposals. As one example, I have become a member of the GP Special Interest Group at the National Centre for Creative Health. I have also shared our findings with the Group for wider dissemination.
First Year Of Impact 2022
Sector Communities and Social Services/Policy
Impact Types Cultural

 
Description Supporting the UKRI AHRC Boundless Creativity campaign
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a national consultation
URL https://www.phc.ox.ac.uk/news/blog/oxford-social-prescribing-researchers-support-boundless-creativit...
 
Description Social prescribing network 
Organisation University of Oxford
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution We are working with the Gardens Libraries and Museums team to explore how they can support NHS social prescribing
Collaborator Contribution We are working towards delivering a knowledge exchange event with the public and stakeholders in July 2019
Impact We successfully obtained funding from an institutional Knowledge Exchange Fund to host the event.
Start Year 2018
 
Description Blog 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Using our new website as a platform, we are producing a series of regular blogs highlighting some of our activities. We are promoting our blogs through our institutional social media channels, which has a broad international reach. Our blogs' feedback has been good and includes readers wanting to find out more about our work.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://socialprescribing.phc.ox.ac.uk/news-views/views/2018cultural2019-offerings-as-a-pathway-to-s...
 
Description Blog 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact We produced another blog in our series of blogs on our new platform entitled "Can the cultural and heritage sectors support older people's well-being through social prescribing?" IN our blog, we highlight some of the goals of our research including how the cultural sector adapts to support older people's well-being. This will allow us to provide recommendations to the cultural sector about being 'referral ready for social prescribing for older people, in the context of the current pandemic and future ones.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://socialprescribing.phc.ox.ac.uk/news-views/views/covid-19-pandemic-can-the-cultural-and-herit...
 
Description Engagement with international alumni of the Oxford Cultural Leaders 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact As part of our project, we made a strong commitment to engaging with international cultural stakeholders. One of the mechanisms to do this was through colleagues who lead the Oxford cultural leaders programme. The programme hosts directors, heads of departments, and senior managers from a diverse range of institutions, including museums, galleries, science centres, libraries, performing arts institutions, strategic bodies, and media and design agencies, from across the globe, including the UK, Europe, the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. The programme has an international network of alumni members who meet and regularly connect to share ideas and inspiration, support one another's continued leadership, and develop partnerships and programmes between themselves and their institutions.

With the support of our project co-applicant (Shaw - who leads the leadership programme), we conducted an online workshop with alumni of the cultural leaders' programme. Approximately 20 colleagues attended. We were able to discuss how International cultural venues have supported the well-being of older populations through the current Covid pandemic. Our reflections from the meeting then fed into our emerging theories. We were also able to gain new contacts through this engagement.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
 
Description Engaging with members of the public and social prescribing link workers 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact In February, we held two online workshops. One of them included engaging with members of the public and social prescribing link workers. Approximately 25 participants attended our workshop-Including participants from all over England, including the North East and South West. We had a very engaging discussion collectively around the types of pathways that would encourage members of the public to engage In cultural activities during the Covid recovery phase. Our social prescriber link worker colleagues contextualised some of these discussions, highlighting the possible pathways to referral. We spent some time in small groups to explore some of our discussions in more detail. This was enormously helpful to help shape our emerging program theory And build up public and professional relations. We will continue to engage with our stakeholders through the project.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
 
Description Launch of a new social prescribing website 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact As part of our programme commitment, we launched a new website dedicated to maximising the "live" reach of our emerging work. We have promoted the new site through our institutional social media channels
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://socialprescribing.phc.ox.ac.uk/