AHRC projects kickstart future of health and social care dialogue

Doctor talks to patient in hospital bed

Windrush folk songs supporting mental health and films on health and social inequality are among the projects exploring the future of health and social care.

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) have today announced a £348,000 investment in 10 projects. These projects are spread across the UK from Kent in south-east England to the Highlands and Islands in Scotland.

Each of the projects will see researchers collaborating with communities to explore their lived experience of health and social care to help inform researchers, health practitioners, and wider discussions with policymakers and the public about the future of care.

World-leading expertise

AHRC Executive Chair Professor Christopher Smith said:

The foundation of the NHS 75 years ago was just one of the many ways in which the UK has been an innovator and leader in health and social care.

Today we are announcing new projects to harness our world-leading expertise in arts and humanities research to present the future of health and social care in imaginative and exciting ways.

We will be engaging the public in wide-ranging discussions around the future of health and social care.

The NHS was fundamentally a consensus driven idea about care and respect for our fellow humans, the product of a humane imagination, and those are the values which will again secure the future of our health, ageing and wellbeing.

New and diverse audiences

Taking place between June 2023 and spring 2024 to coincide with the 75th anniversary of the NHS, they will connect with new and diverse audiences whose voices are not often heard as part of national debates.

Funded projects will use a wide range of creative and imaginative approaches to engage the public, including:

  • new artwork created by staff and patients. This will form part of a travelling exhibition exploring the realities and challenges of the connections between acute care in hospitals and social care delivered in communities across Greater Manchester
  • podcasts and TikTok videos created by new mothers, migrants, older adults and young people based on their lived experience of using mental health services in Kent
  • archival materials and first-hand memories. Researchers, musicians and artists will collaborate with local communities to examine the history of social care and NHS provision in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland to help shape forward looking conversations about its future

New ways of thinking

These projects demonstrate the unique ability of the arts and humanities to explore new ways of thinking about healthcare and social care. They will resonate with communities and give people the confidence to find their voice and have their say on the future of care provision.

This investment forms part of UKRI and AHRC’s long-standing commitment to bringing diverse communities together to help shape how we can secure better health, ageing and wellbeing.

Each of the projects funded provide two-way engagement with benefits for both sides through knowledge exchange and have the potential for positive long-term impact.

NHS 75

Alongside these new projects AHRC has supported a programme of activities linked to the 75th anniversary of the NHS that focus on the telling of untold stories.

A writer-in-residence, award-winning poet, Dr Kim Moore, has been based at Trafford General Hospital since January 2023. A new anthology of poetry, by Dr Moore and staff working in the hospital will be released in July.

Three emerging filmmakers are working on producing new short films that respond to the NHS on Film archive. They will be released in November this year, as part of an AHRC partnership with the British Film Institute.

To coincide with the NHS 75th anniversary five New Thinking Podcasts, an AHRC and BBC collaboration, will also be released in late June. These will explore the latest ideas on areas such as young people and the future of health and writing and healthcare.

Further information

The projects

Using philosophical dialogues with children to understand care and wellbeing for siblings of those with life-limiting conditions

Professor Claire Cassidy, University of Strathclyde

This project will use philosophical dialogues to work with siblings of those experiencing life-limiting or life-threatening conditions to help understand their perspectives on wellbeing and care.

The project will take a rights-based approach that will lead to a series of recommendations and advice for practitioners and families. The outputs, which include a leaflet, film, blog and podcast, will be co-created with the children.

Imagining better futures of health and social care with and for people with energy limiting chronic illnesses

Dr Bethan Evans, University of Liverpool

This project will work with women, trans men, non-binary, and gender nonconforming people with energy limiting chronic illness (such as Long Covid, ME/CFS, fibromyalgia, musculoskeletal and autoimmune conditions).

Through artist-led creative workshops, people will be asked to imagine what better futures of health and social care would involve for themselves as they age, and for people diagnosed with these conditions in the future.

The project will lead to policy briefings, briefings for GPs, and a toolkit of creative outputs (including a podcast and comic book, zines and creative writing) for use in education for healthcare professionals.

Making the invisible, visible: co-creating novel approaches to endometriosis pain communication

Dr Jasmine Hearn, Manchester Metropolitan University

This project brings together health psychology, linguistics, and art and design to engage members of the public living with endometriosis in the co-creation of novel approaches to communicating pain, collated into a pain communication toolkit.

This project will involve collaborations between:

  • Manchester Metropolitan University’s Department of Psychology and School of Art
  • Arts for Recovery in the Community,
  • Endometriosis UK
  • The Language of Endometriosis
  • Helen Mather (an artist and educator with lived experience of endometriosis)

Ageing, health, and social care: the meaningful engagement of autistic people with learning disabilities in supported living services in Scotland

Dr Mary Stewart, Heriot-Watt University

Autistic people with learning disabilities are rarely at the forefront of developing service provision in social care.

This project is a collaboration between Heriot-Watt University, Scottish Autism, artists and autistic filmmakers. It will employ creative methods to engage autistic people with learning disabilities in co-producing a vision of what happy and healthy ageing looks like for this group, and what kind of services they will require as result.

The work will be used to raise awareness and provoke discussion with service professionals, policymakers and the wider community in Scotland and beyond.

Rural health and care: past, present and future

Professor Sarah-Anne Munoz, University of the Highlands and Islands

In this project, researchers, musicians and artists will work with community members to consider the history of rural health and care in the Highlands and Islands.

Project participants will draw on their own memories, as well as archive and research materials, to address important issues, including:

  • what health and care in rural and island Scotland should look like in the future
  • what rural communities need from health and care services such as the NHS in coming decades
  • in what ways the NHS needs to work together with social care and the community sector to deliver for rural communities

NHS 75/150

Professor Stephanie Snow, The University of Manchester

NHS 75/150 will engage diverse communities in Greater Manchester in discussions around the future of health and care.

The project builds on an ambitious five-year research programme on the history of the NHS focused on answering important questions about experiences of health in postwar British everyday life and the place of the NHS.

It will result in an art exhibition that will tour local communities, a programme of workshops and a health futures agenda

Empowering children to shape the future of research on social inequality and health

Dr Rachel Carroll, Teesside University

This project will design a programme of creative workshops for children living in areas of high deprivation in the South Tees region.

Children will have the opportunity to express and communicate their perspectives on social inequality and health and wellbeing through a series of interactive and inclusive workshops. Their voices will be captured through anthologies of artwork and creative writing and short animated or documentary films.

The Health Determinants Research Collaborative will then host knowledge exchange events, where the outcomes of the project can be shared with community-based researchers and public health leaders from across the region.

Re-igniting Windrush folk song and stories to improve African-Caribbean mental health disparities

Dr Myrtle Emmanuel, University of Greenwich

The project will explore how Windrush generation African-Caribbean (A-C) folk stories and songs can support the mental health and wellbeing of today’s UK A-C community.

This work takes place in Greenwich and Lewisham, which have the fastest growing Caribbean communities in London and provides an opportunity to investigate these mental health concerns.

The project will use folk stories and songs to discuss cultural perspectives, and both shared and unique generational experiences, to create a culturally appropriate mental health toolkit.

Co-investigators are Dr David Hockham, FLAS and Tracy Durrant from Everyone’s A Singer.

Community partners include The Caribbean Social Forum and Partisan.

Imagining mental healthcare: engaging underserved local communities in Kent (INTERACT)

Professor Lisa Dikomitis, University of Kent

Anthropologists, psychiatrists, drama therapists and media scholars will ensure that members of Kent communities have an equal voice in the conversation around the future of mental healthcare and research.

The INTERACT public engagement activities will maximise the involvement of mental health service users.

Young people, new mothers, older adults, and migrants, recruited through the Kent-wide mental health trust KMPT, will participate in creative workshops. These will be hosted at the Turner Contemporary, using ethnographic methods, to capture the lived experiences of community members.

Insights will be disseminated through touring exhibitions, public talks, zines, podcasts, TikTok videos, a policy brief and a journal article.

Home from home: building independence in community health settings

Dr Kim Wiltshire, Edge Hill University

Home from home is an arts and health project that explores the intersection between hospital acute care and social care.

The project team from Lime Arts will work with local community organisations from Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust, including both patients and staff, to explore the realities of community ward care.

This will open up creative discussions about the experience of living and working on the four Manchester Community Wards identified.

The project will then see artists, patients and staff come together to create artworks that will be part of a travelling exhibition, alongside a film about the project and the discussions arising from the artwork.

Top image:  Credit: FatCamera, E+ via Getty Images

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