The Staying Well project

© Charles Round Photography, the Heptonstall Village Team Art Class
Staying Well logo
© Charles Round Photography, the Heptonstall Village Team Art Class

The Staying Well project was set up across Calderdale Metropolitan Borough Council area in November 2014, initially as a 12 month pilot project funded by the Calderdale Clinical Commissioning Group.  Subsequently the project has been extended three times, currently until March 2017 with ongoing discussion about further extension, financially supported through Calderdale Clinical Commissioning Group’s Care Closer to Home, NHS Vanguard programme and Calderdale MBC.

The Staying Well project incorporated three aims: a reduction in loneliness and social isolation for older people; an increase in community capacity and improved inter-sectoral working.  The programme put in place four Staying Well workers sited in community anchor organisations in four locality areas in Calderdale: Elland and District Partnership, Halifax Opportunities Trust, Hebden Bridge Community Association and North Halifax Partnership.

Calderdale is a diverse community with a number of significant townships and centres of population bordered by a large semi-rural geographical area.  Within this there are diverse socio-economic and ethnic communities with a number of areas of significant deprivation.  The areas chosen to host the pilot project represented a spread of different geographical, socio-economic and ethnically diverse populations.

Each pilot area was directed by the local community in terms of priorities and needs by way of engagement with local community groups and individuals.  A devolved micro-commissioning budget of £50,000 was allocated to each pilot area to support local activity providers to increase provision and create new opportunities for community activities and to tackle barriers to people accessing activities.  The main barriers identified were transport; personal care; befriending and building accessibility.

Description of the arts activity

Through the four micro commissioning processes a wide range of arts activities were supported and developed by local groups and activity providers.  Examples include:

  • Community arts groups using traditional mediums such as watercolour, silk painting, origami, pastels etc.
  • Community singing groups, both mainstream and specialist dementia provision.
  • Community performance arts groups who developed specific performances for the local Arts Festival.
  • Community based brass bands, who developed a specific adult beginner workstream, whereby some participants learnt to play a musical instrument for the first time.
  • Community gardening groups, some of whom tended to the outside area of a local sheltered housing complex, some of whom were based in community settings.
  • Community cultural talks and events, whereby the local arts festival developed a series of monthly activities inviting speakers with local connections to talk on a wide variety of subjects of an arts nature.  
  • Community craft groups that provided a sociable place for people to learn and share craft skills such as crochet, knitting etc.
  • Community cinema groups with screenings of films specifically targeted to the age group, such as classic films.

Details of the project participants

The target population was older people who either are or are at risk of social isolation and loneliness.  However, most activities, barring the dementia specific provision was open to all.

Recruitment of participants was through a variety of means, some through referrals from professionals such as GPs, social workers and community nurses, others through self-referral to the project either by the individual or a family member/friend.  Additionally low key locally targeted advertising was undertaken such as advertisement and articles in local newspapers and cinemas, in addition to fliers in local community buildings, in areas of high social housing and through existing local community groups and networks.

Project management

Each pilot area had a dedicated Staying Well project worker, tasked with identifying lonely and isolated older people and signposting them to appropriate community activities.  Alongside this the project worker was tasked with supporting and developing the local community offer to increase the range and availability of local activities.

Each community anchor organisation had a lead person responsible for overseeing the work of the Staying Well project.  There was a central project manager and input from senior staff from a range of local authority and health organisations on the project strategic steering group.

Each area also had significant input in terms of strategy and direction from local community organisations to identify and meet the specific needs of the local community.

Most activities attracted a minimal cost usual less than £5 but this varied across the project, pilot areas and activities.

All participants consented to their participation in the project, either as a participant in activities or more specialist support through the project worker and other appropriate professional social care and health professionals.

Evaluation methods and findings

The Staying Well project was independently evaluated by the University of Lincoln.  This has now been published and is available ‘Staying Well in Calderdale’ Final Evaluation Report. July 2016: ISBN 978-1-86050-250-7 (attached for ease of reference).

Key findings are:

  • Overall the average score of loneliness fell with people feeling less lonely than before the start of the programme.
  • Three out of the four hubs were successful in reducing loneliness.
  • Service users accessing the Elland and District Hub reported a 10% improvement in their health state.
  • 48% of those referred had one long term health condition and 38% had two or more.
  • The programme was effective in ensuring those most likely to need support from Staying Well were included – with 55% of participants drawn from the most deprived areas.
  • Those aged 59 and under reported an 18% improvement in their health related quality of life.


Supported using public funding by the Arts Council England