Ageing Creatively - a pilot study to explore the relation of creative arts interventions to wellbeing in later life

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

Abstract

Many older people feel that creative arts activities have had a positive impact on their health. Recently, research has focussed on the value and impact of the arts on particular groups of older people; especially those suffering from dementia. The results of these studies, however are primarily anecdotal and lack rigorous methodology; therefore, it is difficult to draw firm conclusions about the impact of different arts activities on wellbeing. ?Ageing Creatively? will establish a robust range of methodologies, enabling us to collect meaningful data and evaluate the relative benefits of creative arts interventions on the wellbeing of older people.

There is a need to ask some fundamental questions: can the creative arts really foster a sense of wellbeing, reducing the sense of isolation for many older people? Are there greater benefits from active participation rather than more passive experiences (eg song-writing versus attending a concert)? Are some artforms more effective than others? Are the benefits significantly different from those of other regular social contact? It is vital to achieve greater understanding of the processes and potential therapeutic outcomes of creative activity and especially to evaluate the appropriateness of different methodologies. This is the fundamental aim of the current proposal.

An initial critical literature review will build a comprehensive picture of all previous and relevant research already available in this field. ?Ageing Creatively? will offer value for money by using established infrastructures where appropriate and developing approaches for further research. Different methodological approaches will be examined, building not only on Newcastle University?s own recent experience, but on the latest international research.

Secondly, a series of weekly 2-hour sessions involving groups of around 10 participants aged over 55 and not currently in the workforce will cover three creative areas: creative writing and reading, music (song-writing and concert-going), and fine art (painting/ sculpting and exhibition visits), with a further ?control? group experiencing non-creative activities (eg board games).

?Ageing Creatively? will develop and evaluate the processes and methodologies around a range of creative activities designed to promote mental health and wellbeing in later life which can inform relevant future policy and practice.

Technical Summary

Life expectancy is currently increasing by over two years with every decade, but with this comes the challenge of improving health and wellbeing in later life. The therapeutic use of the creative arts, especially music, poetry and the visual arts, to foster human development and healing has a long history. In recent years, various projects have focussed on the value and impact of the arts to particular groups of older people, especially those suffering from dementia, but the results from many of these studies are primarily anecdotal, lacking a rigorous methodology and systematic analysis. ?Ageing Creatively? will establish a more robust range of methodologies, enabling future research projects to collect meaningful data to evaluate the relative benefits of creative arts interventions on the wellbeing of older people.

There is a need to explore systematically some fundamental research questions: can the creative arts really foster a sense of wellbeing, reducing the sense of isolation for many older people? Are there greater benefits from active participation rather than more passive experiences? Are some creative disciplines more effective than others, and are the benefits significantly different from those of other regular social contact? In order to proceed with this research and identify potential benefits, it is first vital to achieve greater understanding of the processes and potential therapeutic outcomes of creative activity and especially to evaluate the appropriateness of different methodologies in measuring this impact. This is the fundamental aim of this pilot proposal.

An initial critical literature review around the perceived benefits of the creative arts on wellbeing in older people will examine quantitative methodologies alongside more traditional qualitative approaches. This review will draw not only on Newcastle University?s recent relevant experience and a range of methodologies developed within our medical research institutes, but on the latest international research.

Secondly, a series of weekly 2-hour interventions involving groups of around 10 participants aged over 55 and not currently in the workforce will cover three creative areas: creative writing and reading, music (song-writing and concert-going), and fine art (painting/ sculpting and exhibition visits), with a further ?control? group experiencing non-creative activities.

?Ageing Creatively? will develop and evaluate the processes and methodologies around a range of creative interventions designed to promote mental health and wellbeing in later life, exploring cultural and socio-economic markers of quality of life to inform relevant future policy and practice.
 
Title Viccy Adams: 'Default Settings' 
Description A short story addressing changing lives in later life and the relationship between creativity and memory. In the story this is presented through a widower's relationship with a friend's wife, who is herself being 'lost' to dementia, and draws on the creative writing workshops in Ageing Creatively. 
Type Of Art Creative Writing 
Year Produced 2016 
Impact Read by the author at the Edinburgh International Book Festival on Friday 19 August as one of the daily UNESCO City of Literature Storyshop series. The event was also live broadcast on Periscope. Audio extract online: https://audioboom.com/posts/4889092-storyshop-2016-viccy-adams Video of the performance: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sX37iLSexn0 Whole text: http://www.cityofliterature.com/story-shop/story-shop-2016/fri-19-aug-viccy-adams/ 
URL http://www.cityofliterature.com/story-shop/story-shop-2016/fri-19-aug-viccy-adams/
 
Description Contribution to Newcastle City Council plans for Newcastle as an age-friendly city
Geographic Reach Local/Municipal/Regional 
Policy Influence Type Membership of a guidance committee
 
Description Contribution to UK Age-Friendly Cities Network
Geographic Reach Local/Municipal/Regional 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a national consultation
 
Description Contribution to UK Urban Ageing Consortium
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a national consultation
 
Description Sage Gateshead 
Organisation The Sage Gateshead
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Setting up ollaborative workshops in choral singing and exploring music and observations through RA
Collaborator Contribution Providing facilitator for two sets of workships and sharing substantial experience of previous music interventions and their impact on wellbeing.
Impact Partners dissemination day
Start Year 2012
 
Description TWAM 
Organisation Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Joint planning of workshops and their observation by RA
Collaborator Contribution Provision of facilitator for series of art workshops and venue - Hatton Gallery
Impact Partners dissemination day
Start Year 2012
 
Description Advertising workshops via various networks 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Type Of Presentation Poster Presentation
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact advertising workshops in the following networks: i) elders council with a circulation of 3, 000, ii) voice north database with a circulation of 2, 500 iii) Age UK with offices around the north east and iv) the Silvers programme, the Sage Gateshead with a circulation of 2, 000 and v) newcastle city libraries and 20 satellite libraries

Since advertising the workshops in May and throughout the workshop from September to December, we have received enquiries about our research and individuals who were unable to sign up for the workshops or who put on a waiting list have asked to be circulated the final findings and to be informed of any follow up project.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description Ageing Well: CAKE session with Creative Fuse North East 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact A Collaboration and Knowledge Exchange (CAKE) event organised by Creative Fuse North East at the Centre for Life, Newcastle. Four presentations on ageing and wellbeing were followed by Q&As bringing together academics, professional practitioners and third sector organisations.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL http://www.creativefusene.org.uk/category/latest/cake-events/
 
Description Creative Writing Workshop on Ed Ruscha 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Type Of Presentation Workshop Facilitator
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Creative writing workshop held for 10 over 55s at the Ed Ruscha exhibition at the Hatton Gallery on 29/04/2013 by Dr Viccy Adams. Aim was to introduce the participants from our workshops to other resources in the area, to strengthen their ability to carry on under their own steam.

The creative writing group from the project continues to meet, 9 months after their formal involvement with the project ended.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
 
Description Creative writing workshop on MIP process 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Type Of Presentation Workshop Facilitator
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Creative writing workshop for 10 over 55s led by Dr Viccy Adams on 13/05/2013 at Newcastle University, using the Metaphor Identification Procedure as creative inspiration.

Continued engagement from creative writing group with Ageing Creatively project. Fed back into discussion of MIP-based research papers arising from the project.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
 
Description Creative writing workshop with MA students 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Type Of Presentation Workshop Facilitator
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Workshop given for 20 MA Creative writing students at Newcastle University by Dr Viccy Adams, based on our primary research question- can engaging in creative activities have adverse effects on subjective wellbeing?

16/04/2013

Postgraduate students made aware of impact of research project and possibilities of engaging with future research.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
 
Description Images and Visualisation conference talk (Sweden, 2012) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Type Of Presentation Keynote/Invited Speaker
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Images and Visualisation: Imaging Technology, Truth and Trust, 17-21 September 2012. Linköping University, Sweden (http://www.esf.org/index.php?id=9613)
Thomson, Fionagh
Virtual Bodies and the Diagnostic Gaze: the predominance of the visual in the diagnostic process within Telemedicine Design
note: the presentation overlaps with methodological challenges in the Ageing Creatively pilot around accessing participants' experiences of activites that are non-verbal and are, therefore, often difficult to articulate (e.g. singing or creating a work of art).

As a result of this presentation, the SRA (Fionagh Thomson) was invited to do a talk at NTNU, Trondheim in December for a cross-disciplinary group of applied philosophers called HUMTECH.
Participants at the conference now form an international email group who regularly share academic and non-academic information on the topic of visual images and technology in medical research.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
URL http://www.esf.org/index.php?id=9613
 
Description Lancaster University Pragmatics & Stylistics Research Group talk 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Type Of Presentation Keynote/Invited Speaker
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact 10 academics attended a research group talk at Lancaster University led by Dr Helen Thomas, followed by a lively discussion and feedback session.

Feedback was gained, which impacted on the project's final report. Created links with another research group on the use of metaphors. Dr Thomas was subsequently invited to peer-review for the Journal of Pragmatics.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
URL http://www.ling.lancs.ac.uk/groups/pasty/index.htm
 
Description Presentation to delegation of Swedish uiversity vice-chancellors 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Type Of Presentation Paper Presentation
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Presentation to and ensuing discussion with around 10 Swedish vice-chancellors on the principles and practice of the project - 15 June 2012

Some VCs going back to their own institutions to consider the impact of creative arts on wellbeing in older people
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description Press Release of end of Workshop event/short carol Concert (Hatton Gallery) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Type Of Presentation Keynote/Invited Speaker
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Press release for a public event for 60 participants of the different workshops in the Hatton Gallery. The main event is to be a short public carol concert by the singing for performance workshop. Other participants in the creative writing, short stories, exploring music, artist in residence and exploring art are being invited to show their work over a buffet lunch. this event will be held in the new extension of the fine art department and will be used to showcase the new space.

the event has not yet occurred - only the press release.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description Research Display 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Type Of Presentation Poster Presentation
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact This display includes an overview of the pilot project's research methods, questions, initial findings and discussion points, presented in the glass display cabinets in the foyer of King's Gate, Newcastle University. The research display is presented alongside a small exhibition of work produced by the Artist-in-Residence workshops at the Hatton Gallery.

Awareness of the project raised within the wider university and with the general public.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
URL http://research.ncl.ac.uk/ageingcreatively/events/researchdisplay.html
 
Description SEMPRE conference presentation 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Type Of Presentation Paper Presentation
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact SEMPRE Conference 18-20 April 2013 :: 'Setting the Tempo' - The need for a progressive research programme on Music Health and Wellbeing

University Centre Folkestone

Paper title: Freeze-Frames: accessing and documenting the nature of musical experiences in a complex, non-drug intervention

Interesting discussion sparked.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
URL http://www.sempre.org.uk/conferences/past-sempre-conferences/18-setting-the-tempo-2
 
Description Swedish visit (Newcastle) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Presentation specially requested by group of politicians, civic leaders and policy makers from Vastra Gotaland in Sweden in March 2016 who are looking at making their own region more 'user friendly' to older people.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Workshops Celebration 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Type Of Presentation Keynote/Invited Speaker
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Participants in your research and patient groups
Results and Impact Venue: Foyer gallery in Fine Art dept, Newcastle University
Start: Wed, 12 Dec 2012 12:30:00 GMT
End: Wed, 12 Dec 2012 15:30:00 GMT
Ageing Creatively participants are invited to come together for a buffet lunch and the opportunity to share work and discussion from the previous ten weeks. The event includes a compilation of songs from Exploring Music, an informal exhibition by Artist-in-residence, displays of work by Exploring Art, Creative Writing, and Exploring Short Stories & Poetry. Creative Writing will also give a short reading.

Project partners and members of the public are invited to join participants at 2pm for 'A Sharing of Seasonal Songs' performed by !0 Weeks to Performance (Singing for Performance), accompanied by Chris Gulliver and led by Gilly Love.

Participants given opportunity to meet members from other workshops and share their work with each other. Very positive feedback received.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
URL http://research.ncl.ac.uk/ageingcreatively/events/workshopscelebration.html