• Run by South Devon and Torbay Clinical Commissioning Group and Torbay Culture, in collaboration with health, care and culture partners  
  • Aimed to improve people’s physical and mental wellbeing outcomes, focusing on people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and children with lower-level mental health problems
  • Introduced a series of participatory arts programmes
  • Project ran from January 2017 to April 2018

The overall aim of this project was to develop an integrated system and model of care, built around motivated, activated and engaged citizens, where health and wellbeing is a priority.

The innovation focused on improving the physical, mental and social wellbeing of two groups of people – those with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and children with lower-level mental health problems – through community-based arts and culture programmes.

Eleven 12-week interventions were run, involving art, storytelling, theatre, music and radio production for the children, and singing for COPD patients. Sessions focused on learning a creative skill or technique, with emphasis on experimentation, group interaction and reflection to enable participants gain skills, knowledge, confidence and resilience; as well as a sense of community connection.

Evaluation has shown that the arts-based interventions have the potential to offer greater choice of self-management interventions to patients living with long-term conditions; empower people to take better care of themselves; and offer attractive and enjoyable strategies for self-management.

Results of the project in schools show a slight reduction in overall stress post-intervention, with some children showing marked improvement and reduced risk of mental health disorder.

There was high participant satisfaction among the singing for COPD cohort, marked improvements in mental wellbeing for some, and self-reports that participants were applying breathing techniques and exercises at home.

Learning from the interventions is informing discussions regarding sustainability and embedding the innovation into care pathways. The team will now concentrate on providing robust financial data and recommendations for future delivery in order to engage commissioners.

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