Research

Understanding the impact of an intergenerational arts and health project: a study into the psychological well-being of participants, carers and artists

L.K.Jenkins and I.J.Aujla, School of Media and Performance, University of Bedfordshire, Bedford, UK. R.Farrer, School of Media and Performing Arts, Coventry University, Coventry, UK.

Paper published in Public Health, Volume 194, May 2021, Pages 121-126

Abstract

Received 30 September 2020, Revised 22 December 2020,
Accepted 22 February 2021, Available online 18 April 2021.

Objectives
There is growing interest in arts practices in relation to public health, including their potential to support psychological well-being. This study sought to understand the impact of Hear and Now, an intergenerational arts and health project, upon indicators of psychological well-being among all groups involved: young people, older people with a diagnosis of dementia and their carers and partners and the project’s artistic team.

Study design
This was a descriptive exploratory qualitative study, using focus groups and observation as data collection methods.

Methods
Study participants were 65 people representing the four groups participating in the 2019 Hear and Now project: older adults living with a diagnosis of dementia, their carers and partners, young people and a team of professional artists and facilitators. Of these, 27 participated in one or more of seven focus groups. Participants were asked about their previous engagement with music and dance, thoughts about the intergenerational element of the project and other aspects of their experiences that related to indicators of well-being. In order to investigate the project’s impact on participants’ well-being, Seligman’s PERMA model was adopted, which sets out five indicators of well-being: positive emotions, engagement, positive relationships, meaning and achievement/accomplishment.

Results
Experiences relating to all five areas of the PERMA model were evidenced by all groups in relation to their involvement in the project. Additional health benefits were also cited by some, as well as enhanced perceptions of other members of the project cohort.

Conclusions
The findings support existing literature that intergenerational and arts activities can be beneficial for individuals’ psychological health. Experiences relating to all five dimensions of the PERMA model of well-being (positive emotion, engagement, positive relationships, meaning, achievement/accomplishment) were cited by the four participant groups, which suggests examining the impact of such projects on all project collaborators is worthy of further study. Understanding the impact these projects can have on the various groups involved will enable artistic and healthcare communities to better collaborate and value each other’s practices.

 

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