Co-Designing a Creative Economy Healthcare Hub

Lead Research Organisation: University of the West of England


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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Senior TJ (2019) Open to All: Dementia, Creativity, and Open Ecosystem Innovation. in Frontiers in sociology

Description The project is in the beginning stages of analysis (report due end of May 2018). The four development labs have, however, delivered on much of what is needed for this process:

• Lab 1 (Sector Mapping) has helped us understand the key routes to collaboration between different stakeholder groups in this field of work (and the various barriers that need to be addressed). (leading to Creative Vouchers 1 and 2).
• Lab 2 (Arts and Cultural Interventions) has helped us understand the variety of arts and cultural work currently active in this field, and possible in the future (including the role of new digital technologies). (leading to Voucher3)
• Lab 3 (Co-design) has helped us understand the wider challenges around co-design methods with people living with dementia, as a function of different collaborative contexts (such as arts organisations, care homes, and research settings). (Leading to Vouchers 4, 5 and 6)
• Lab 4 (Evaluation) has helped us understand the broader challenges around evidence from different sector perspectives, and the evaluation requirements of different innovation pathways (e.g. public commissioning or market). (leading to voucher 7).

All objects to date are being met. The project is pointing towards a more radical extension of the AHRC Hubs learning that expected, namely a more distributed and community embedded innovation model supported by the interface functions of a Hub (over the HEI-led, time- and funding-limited models that currently operate).
Exploitation Route To be further explored at the end of the project in May 2018.
Sectors Creative Economy,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Healthcare,Other

Description The principle route to impact is the 6 vouchers we have funded, with impact in the private, public, and voluntary sectors. • Voucher 1: Sense of Self - The development of the UK's first post-diagnosis "creativity audit" for people living with dementia (prototype) - developed with London Arts for Health Forum and NHS Merseycare Trust, and currently undergoing testing. • Voucher 2: Activity Academy - An event developed in collaboration with Widnes Vikings Rugby Club, NHS Halton CCG, and the care charity 'Community Integrated Care' to bring together practitioners from cultural organisations and care homes within Halton (~50 Participants) - aim of sharing and implementing best practices of person-centred dementia care (currently under evaluation). • Voucher 3: Sense of Self - Creative Dementia Arts Network, the micro-business Understory and Methodist Carehomes have developed and tested a proof-of-concept product that uses chocolate as a component of a novel multi-sensory approach to enhancing reminiscence in older people with dementia. • Voucher 4: A DEEP protocol - built around a co-design session delivered at the third development lab developed a set of guidelines for the Dementia Connect project to facilitate the full participation of people living with dementia in arts, cultural, and design activities. These guidelines were developed through active participation of people living with dementia in the Liverpool city region. • Voucher 5: Care, Community Culture - This pilot project brought together people living with dementia from the Chinese, BAMER, Asian, and Irish Communities in Liverpool to generate awareness around food and language culture. A series of guidelines to be implemented in care homes are being developed. • Voucher 6: What's on for Dementia - The project team has run a co-design session to develop an extension to the real time Wellcome2Liverpool app, namely a "what's on for dementia" tab. Mapping dementia friendly activities in the Liverpool City Region is providing content foe this development. Our system of creative-producer-led innovation support has helped smooth over any challenges in achieving impact. The high levels in-kind support provided by the creative, business, and voluntary sector partners in these projects is helping us achieve impact beyond our original aims.
First Year Of Impact 2017
Sector Communities and Social Services/Policy,Creative Economy,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Healthcare,Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
Impact Types Cultural,Societal,Policy & public services