Well-being of Older People
Personal well-being is a measure of positive emotions, a satisfying life, resilience and self-esteem; social well-being results from the experience of supportive relationships and a sense of trust and belonging
(Michaelson et al, 2009)
The term ‘well-being’ has become part of mainstream public policy in the UK and represents for Arts Together both an important goal and a key indicator against which we measure our effectiveness. We put improved “well-being” at the heart of what we do and aim to achieve this through encouraging and enabling creative and social activity.
Growing older can bring wisdom, a sense of perspective, time to reflect and deep experience to share with others. It can also involve change and loss through bereavement, retirement, moving home, temporary hospitalisation or decreased physical and mental capacity, which may in turn bring loneliness and social exclusion. Active participation in creative and social activities of the kind offered by Arts Together can help to counteract some of the negative effects of ageing, isolation and social exclusion.
Independent research, the testimonies of group members and the evidence gathered since 2000 demonstrate that Arts Together is an effective and valuable resource for older people, and for those who work towards their care and well-being. Research also shows that initiatives like Arts Together can reduce or delay the need for more expensive care services, thus saving public money in the longer term.
We annually evaluate and review the procedures and effectiveness of Arts Together in delivering its core aims through consultation with participants and contributors. In addition we invite external agencies to review our provision, the most recent of these sought to research current evidence in order to assess the relevance of our provision and our alignment with public and national policies. A summary of the review carried out at no cost to Arts Together by Whittington Consultants can be found here.
The conclusion of the review states –
Arts Together can reasonably claim from this review of research evidence that:
- The experience of loneliness, social isolation and social exclusion, which Arts Together seeks to reduce, is actually and potentially harmful to older people’s mental and physical well-being, in some cases very seriously so.
- Services, like Arts Together, that are group-based, activity-focused and socially-interactive have been shown to be effective in helping to counter these social harms and are valued by older people in improving their well-being.
- The particular arts-based, informal learning activities of the kind offered by Arts Together have been shown to add further potential benefits, such as renewed sense of purpose, personal self-expression and re-discovered talents, contributing further to a sense of well-being.
(Whittington Consultants – Aug 2010)