Staying Out

Staying Out, ARC, Stockton Arts Centre
Staying Out, ARC, Stockton Arts Centre
Staying Out, ARC, Stockton Arts Centre
Staying Out, ARC, Stockton Arts Centre

Staying Out aims to tackle social isolation and reduce hospital admissions in those aged 65 years and over who are living with a long term health condition by offering them a weekly opportunity to attend an activity that stimulates creative and social engagement in a supportive environment staffed by a multi-professional team made up of artists, paid carers and volunteers. Support from qualified carers ensures that any health concerns can be raised and participants signposted to additional services, where necessary, thereby reducing strain on hospital services.

Funded through the Hartlepool and Stockton Clinical Commissioning Group’s ‘Health Initiatives’ fund, but soon to be funded through the Local Authority’s ‘Better Care Fund’, this creative initiative that was launched in September 2014, and is currently being commissioned to continue until October 2019. Meeting every Wednesday in the vibrant space of ARC; Stockton’s arts and cultural venue, up to 30 people living with a range of long-term health conditions come together to take part in a variety of creative activities in a supportive and caring environment.

Description of the arts activity

ARC is a multi-artform arts centre in Stockton on Tees, situated in one of the most deprived wards in the country. It provides a range of high quality arts and cultural activity for local audiences and participants, specialising in developing new performance work in collaboration with artists and audiences. It enjoys a national reputation for this work, and leads a number of artist development initiatives across the North of England.

ARC’s mission is to work from its building to enhance the wellbeing of the whole community of Stockton and the Tees Valley, through arts and creative activity, through widening opportunities to experience and participate in the arts, and through partnership with other organisations.

Through employing the services of an artist to deliver a range of activities based on the diverse, and evolving, requirements and abilities of the group, the participants engage in up to 24 unique creative activities designed to teach new skills and enhance existing ones. The range of activities offer therapeutic benefits through cognitive and physical stimulation, particularly around the use of fine motor skills and post-stroke rehabilitation. Additionally, a sense of achievement and wellbeing is promoted as creations are celebrated and shared with other local groups and organisations.

Participants are given the opportunity to create work using a range of medium including clay, paints, textiles, pastels, iPads, paper and beads, as well as creating project specific pieces that, to date, consists of halloween decorations, flags, twiddle muffs and Easter eggs that were displayed at a local museum.

Details of the project participants

Staying Out is open to participants living in the borough of Stockton on Tees, who are aged 65 years and over and socially isolated, living with a long term health condition and at risk of unplanned hospital admissions, or recently discharged after an unplanned admission.

Referrals are received from a number of local health and social care organisations and GP practices, with interested parties also able to contact a local voluntary organisation as a means of self-referral.

Project management

Involved directly in the management of the Staying Out project, we have:

  • Project Manager: Recruit and manage the project team, project deliverables, project budget and evaluation. Monitor performance, progress and training needs.
  • Project Co-ordinator: Manage the care team and artist; monitor referrals, develop referral routes, produce funders reports.
  • Administration Apprentice: Create printed materials, contact participants.
  • Care Team: Provide care and assistance for participants.
  • Artist: Deliver a range of creative and stimulating arts activities suitable for the participants.
  • Volunteers: Support and encourage active engagement in activities.

With regards to quality assurance, the arts activities are led by a professional artist – recruited with input from older people - and supported by suitably trained professional carers. All staff and volunteers have undergone a DBS check prior to commencing their role. All adverse events are documented and reported to the project manager. Feedback from participants is sought on a weekly basis.
With reference to ethics and consent, participants complete a standard 'Project Participant Information' form detailing their contact information and media consent. In addition to this, participants are also asked to consent to take part in the evaluation process, with wellbeing scores numbered to protect privacy.

Evaluation methods and findings

Through the collection of both qualitative feedback and quantitative questionnaires in the form of the Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale completed at weeks 1, 6 and 11.

To date, we are able to confirm that, during participants time at Staying Out, we have recorded an average improvement of 5 points.

Participants also provide their NHS numbers that are reported back to the Clinical Commissioning Group on a quarterly basis in order for them to monitor hospital admissions. However, to date we have not received any direct feedback on the number of re-admissions linked directly with our participants.

Case studies have identified that participants benefit from increased social engagement, gain confidence in specific activities, regain some aspects of independence and mix with their peer group. In addition to this, carers benefit from regular respite or the opportunity to join in and participate in the group activities, which has received positive feedback from both participants and carers.

Supported using public funding by the Arts Council England