Lead Organisation: between Age Cymru and Knowledge Economy Skills Scholarship (KESS) 2 at Bangor University
In 2015, Age Cymru launched the cARTrefu programme. A pan-Wales project, cARTrefu commissions professional artists to work in care homes to deliver creative sessions to residents and staff via artist residencies and training. Following Phase 1, the Dementia Services Development Centre (DSDC) Wales at Bangor University undertook an evaluation of the programme which found that cARTrefu has significant impacts upon older people’s well-being as well as staff attitudes to residents living with dementia. Following the evaluation, cARTrefu was funded for a further two phases (Phase 2- 2017-19; Phase 3- 2019-2021).
Core funding for Phase 3 is coming to an end so on behalf of Age Cymru, a master’s by research project has been undertaken by Penny Alexander exploring how to embed and sustain the cARTrefu programme in care homes. The research involves exploring other approaches to creative provision in social care contexts.
What we have done
Following a rapid evidence review, key themes were extracted from the data and utilised to structure three #Social Care Innovation Labs. Key stakeholders were invited to attend, and attendees included a range of artists, care staff, managers, and local authority commissioners. Each lab investigated the most significant barriers and facilitators linked with projects attempting to embed or sustain arts provision in social care settings. The labs also looked at the areas of vulnerability and strength within cARTrefu, to see how the programme could be best sustained into the future
What we have found
The following barriers and facilitators of sustaining arts-based provision in social care settings were identified:
Lab 1: Arts in health training, well-being awareness, challenges and opportunities faced by care homes
- There are issues surrounding staffing and the financial implications relating to freeing up team members to access training initiatives linked with the arts. It was also reported that arts training opportunities arise infrequently.
- The language surrounding the arts is often misunderstood and stands as a barrier. As such, those with limited access to or awareness of the versatility and scope of the arts in a social care context frequently struggle to engage. This is not limited to care staff but includes management.
- Many settings identify that they need to address structural issues to include creative provision within their care, but immediate personal care needs often prevent this from being addressed because there is a tension between meeting personal care needs and well-being needs, with well-being being perceived as an optional extra.
Lab 2: Staff confidence and accreditation
- cARTrefu is unique in that it teaches creative care approaches. These approaches strengthen relationships within care home communities. They also improve staff confidence and offer staff tools which have many benefits. The potential skills make caring roles more enjoyable but also fulfil person-centred care values, thus improving the standards and inter-person bonds within the care environment.
- Care home teams contain skilled creative staff but sometimes the staff lack the skills, budgets, or support to attempt to sustain creative sessions.
- The formality of training can be a barrier, particularly given that many care home staff members are already over-burdened. Findings from the lab described a need for non-mandatory training. There were warnings against training which involves writing and lots of paperwork to complete, although providing accreditation for attendance would be appealing. If the training had associations with Age Cymru and Bangor University, it would offer credibility. This would be more appealing to managers who would need to backfill staff to enable attendance. Buy-in from management would significantly bolster the status of the arts in care home settings- enabling staff and residents to benefit from the utilisation of training.
Lab 3: Sustainability
- It was agreed by all participants that there is a need for care homes to have access to funding, to make use of creativity to meet well-being needs of residents, however there were no funding solutions suggested by the participants of the lab.
- There were connections drawn between activities with a focus on culture and the opportunity for sustainability. Buy-in from residents and staff who perceive cultural activities as being more accessible through care homes can enhance sustainability. Also, cultural funding opportunities as opposed to creative funding opportunities were highlighted as being an area for potential subsidy, because cultural engagement shares the same values.
- To sustain arts provision in care home settings, the labs frequently went into discussion about the need to understand the roles and functions of different facets of care needs. Coherence between staff roles and arts/artist awareness was identified as being significant in terms of embedding and sustaining arts provision in a setting. This was described as best achieved through training and strong communication/links with cARTrefu.
- As a result of the covid-19 pandemic there is an increase in the awareness of staff well-being needs, The opportunity to sustain cARTrefu through staff well-being training was identified as being one area where well-being policy could be delivered in practice. This policy support could offer cARTrefu a foothold in a sector experiencing increasing cuts.
Further qualitative data is being collected via one-on-one interviews. The data will be presented in a thesis which is to be completed by December 2021. cARTrefu Phase 3 ends in Spring of 2022 and findings from the thesis will feed into a potential phase 4 of the programme.
More information and contact:
Research undertaken by Penny Alexander, for more information, please contact: Pnl20rln@bangor.ac.uk
Primary supervisor: Diane Seddon firstname.lastname@example.org
To find out more about the cARTrefu programme: https://cartrefu.org.uk/
To find out more about the work of Dementia Services Development Centre Wales: http://dsdc.bangor.ac.uk/
This project is a partnership between Age Cymru and Knowledge Economy Skills Scholarship (KESS) 2 at Bangor University. KESS 2 is a major pan-Wales operation supported by European Social Funds (ESF) through the Welsh Government.