We are working with a growing range of commissioners and communities in Torbay to help residents lead healthier, happier lives. We are testing new ways of building artistic practices into the day-to-day work of other sectors, including the health sector, to help them meet their own objectives and to embed creativity into the lives of those who could benefit the most.

Our work began with the support of the Cultural Commissioning Locality Project. The second phase developed new initiatives within the health sector. The Torbay Care Charter began life when we decided to co-commission a project with Torbay Council with the aim to find out what “good care” looked like to care home residents, their families, friends and staff. We commissioned Encounters Arts to lead a creative consultation and create a new charter of rights.

View the Torbay Care Charter


A key aim of Torbay’s cultural strategy is to harness the health and well-being benefits of culture. A growing amount of academic research proves the positive clinical and social outcomes culture can provide within both health and care pathways. Torbay has 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 creative practitioners (Torbay Culture and Arts Network). This is a strong base from which to develop a strategic approach to culture, health and wellbeing here.

We believe there is great potential to develop creative work within the care homes sector. Torbay has the third highest number of care homes and beds in England and Torbay's creative practitioners have already led a number of innovative projects in this area. Good practice in residential care underlines the importance of communication between staff and residents (and their support network) using a variety of methods which reflect their individual needs. As there can be a diversity in backgrounds, expectations, languages and cultures of both residents and staff it is important to ensure that these differences do not lead to poor care or relationships. We believe that creative practices can help to address this challenge.


Encounters Arts, the commissioned artists, worked in 10 care homes across Torbay using creative methods to consult residents, staff, friends and family members and others working within the care sector. The consultation involved a series of special 'invitations to join in' that included open questions, designed to harvest their diverse ideas and experiences.

The invitations to join in were made to:

  • be accessible, inviting, enjoyable and interesting

  • work with individuals and small groups in a variety of different contexts

  • be visual and use a range of different materials

  • enable different ways of responding, including model making, drawing and writing.

The invitations became a mobile toolkit that offered an evolving visual focal point for dialogue and exchange. A total of 115 people took part, including 84 residents and 31 staff, friends and family members. A further 60 people took part in consultations held for the public and other health professionals.

All the information from the consultation was sorted and condensed down to create the 10 principles of “good care” in Torbay. These 10 principles became the Torbay Care Charter. We wanted the Charter to be presented in a beautiful and clear way; something people would want to keep and to look at, something people would see as credible and that reflected the consultation in its form as well as its content. We wanted to make something that would bring people together and nurture connections between them, as this had been an important element throughout the whole creative consultation process.

To achieve all this, the artists from Encounters developed the Charter into a set of 10 playing cards that include a series of games that continue to facilitate interaction between people. On one side of each card is a ‘principle’, with the Charter text for that principle written underneath it, and on the other side are quotes from care home residents.


The objectives of our Arts in Care Homes and Beyond project are to:

  • Empower care home residents to engage in creative activity; build stronger, more trusting relationships between care home residents and staff; develop agreement on what ‘good care' looks like to increase the standard of care in homes across Torbay

  • Identify new, cost-effective routes for existing and new partners (including the care homes sector) to deliver their desired outcomes through arts, culture and heritage and to ensure they know how and why to commission creative practitioners

  • Ensure that creative practitioners are commission-ready and have new routes to be commissioned to deliver their work in new sectors, including the care homes sector

  • Make possible new, self-managed cultural commissions from the care home sector, and other sectors.

This project has developed a strong relationship between Torbay Council’s Partnerships, People and Housing and Torbay’s creative practitioners. New projects have been developed off the back of the Torbay Care Charter, including a truly innovative leadership programme for care managers designed and led by members of Torbay Culture & Arts Network (TCAN).


Our key strategic partners in this work are Torbay Culture and Arts Network (TCAN) and Torbay Council.

Our commissioned delivery partner was Encounters Arts, jointly funded by Torbay Council and by the National Lottery through Arts Council England and the Heritage Lottery Fund, as part of Torbay's Great Place Scheme.

If you would like to know more about our work in this area, please contact us on


The project began in July 2017 and the Torbay Care Charter was launched in June 2018. Late 2018, Cat Radford was contracted to continue the strategic development of creative commissioning here, working with us and with Torbay Culture & Arts Network.

Video credits
Film and video: Wonder Associates | Josh Pratt | Lisa Gardiner
Music credit and copyright: Blue Dot Sessions | Fabian Measures

“Torbay Culture has helped give a voice to some of our most vulnerable citizens through creatively engaging residents in care homes on what good care looks and feels like. Some of those who enjoyed this experience and told us what matters most to them have not participated in other activities for many years.”

– Frances Mason, Head of Partnerships, People and Housing, Torbay Council