Where the Arts Belong project

January 10, 2020

The results of the first stage of a study looking at how arts can be used in new care settings are in. The findings of the Where the Arts Belong (WTAB) project suggest it has had a very positive impact on the quality of life of residents who took part.

Where the Arts Belong is a three-year research project, developed to explore how the arts can be effectively embedded into new care environments. Conducted by Belong and Liverpool’s centre for the contemporary arts, Bluecoat, the research ultimately aims to identify ways of using the arts to improve the lives of those with dementia.

The first phase of the project has seen six critically-acclaimed artists take up pilot residencies at Belong Crewe to engage customers, staff and members of the wider community in a variety of arts activities, including storytelling, sculpture and dance.

An Action Learning Group, formed by organisation representatives and the involved artists, is assessing the project throughout its duration according to a detailed evaluation framework, created in conjunction with the Centre for Collaborative Innovation in Dementia (CCID) at Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU).

Measured using DEMQOL – a validated tool for capturing health-related quality of life – and Person Centred Software (PCS), the Centre for Collaborative Innovation in Dementia at Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU) has now evaluated participant responses to the 103 Where the Arts Belong activities that have taken place across the six-month pilot study.

This data was supplied by the team at Belong Crewe, who recorded pre- and post-engagement participant responses to WTAB sessions, in addition to feedback from other activities at the village, such as games and exercise.

Highlights of the findings include:

  • Over 50% of residents reported a positive change in their overall quality of life.
  • 84% said they were happy or very happy as a result of their participation (12% higher than reactions to other activities).
  • Over a third of participants reported their quality of life had improved (those who were initially the most worried/least happy saw the biggest improvement).

LJMU also noted that the project may have helped to stop the decline, and stabilise the quality of life of participants.

Going forward, other quantitative measures and outcomes in addition to quality of life, such as the role of art in enhancing communication and creativity, will be explored to provide a more complete picture of Where the Arts Belong.

Commenting on these findings, Tracy Paine, Belong Deputy Chief Executive, said, 'The results of the pilot study are really encouraging and we are thrilled to see the positive impact it has had on our residents. We are eager to see what the next stage of the project will bring.'

Tabitha Moses, Project Facilitator for Where the Arts Belong, added, 'These outcomes confirm our belief in the power of art. They strengthen the argument for greater investment in arts engagement for older people, especially those living with dementia, and we look forward to gathering more evidence as the project continues.'

More information on the research project can be found on the dedicated website.

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