A key aim of Torbay’s ten year cultural strategy is to harness the health and well-being benefits of culture. An increasing amount of academic research evidences the beneficial clinical and social outcomes culture can provide, within both health and care pathways. With Torbay and South Devon’s pioneer status for integrated health and social care, an active Healthwatch, a Community Development Trust committed to cultural activity and a network of experienced local arts and health practitioners, there is a strong base from which to develop a strategic approach to culture, health and well-being here.
Key public and voluntary sector organisations around the country are developing new models of care, where ‘social prescribing’ and ‘guided conversations’ form the basis of preventative work. In South Devon, Torbay Community Development Trust is already piloting this approach as part of their leadership of Ageing Well, a major Big Lottery-funded project to reduce isolation amongst Torbay’s 50+ generation. A range of local partners, including Torbay Culture Board, Torbay Arts and Culture Network (TACN), South Devon and Torbay Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust, Public Health Torbay and Torbay Community Development Trust are now exploring the role of arts, heritage and culture in contributing to the prevention and self-care agenda.
With the support of the Cultural Commissioning Locality Project (https://www.ncvo.org.uk/practical-support/information/public-services/cultural-commissioning-programme/locality-projects), we have identified a number of priority initiatives through which to test and learn from different creative approaches and establish the impact of cultural engagement on residents’ physical and mental health and well-being. We have secured funding from Arts Council England, The Health Foundation and Torbay Medical Research Fund and are in the process of appointing creative practitioners from TACN to progress four initial arts, health and well-being programmes between March 2017 and May/June 2018.
Our pilot men’s mental health programme Just Ask has informed this work – see the projects page for more details.