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National care home arts project returns more than £6 for each pound invested

28th August, 2020

An arts project involving 194 care homes across Wales has not only brought significant improvements to the well-being of participating residents, but it has also delivered a social return on investment (SROI) of £6.48 for every pound invested, found a recent study by Bangor University’s Dr Katherine Algar-Skaife.

The project, called cARTrefu, which means 'to reside' in Welsh, was designed to increase opportunities for care home residents and staff to take part in creative activities.  It also aims to develop and mentor artists to enable them to deliver creative sessions for older people in care settings.

Funded by the Arts Council of Wales and the Baring Foundation, cARTrefu began in April 2015 and is thought to be the largest of its kind in Europe. So far, more than 3,200 residents and care home staff have taken part in the project encompassing a variety of art forms including performing arts, music, visual art and words.  

A previous study by Dr Algar-Skaife found that the project significantly increased the well-being of residents, improved their social skills, and even helped some of them regain skills such as using a knife and fork.

Sarah Lord, who runs the cARTrefu project said: “We know that the project is inspiring and re-igniting a passion for creativity amongst the care home sector with some staff reporting that the creative sessions had improved their relationships with residents.

“However, we also wanted to show the social value of our work so we commissioned Dr Algar-Skaife, who was already familiar with the project, to explore the social, environmental and economic outcomes and then place a monetary value on them.

“Hopefully this analysis will help the sector to consider arts and creativity as vital components to a person’s general well-being and ability to live well.”

Dr Algar-Skaife said: “It has been great to continue the research partnership with the cARTrefu project and to be able to demonstrate the positive impact its approach has on the social care sector. I hope that the results from this SROI analysis will demonstrate the social value to commissioners and secure a sustainable future for cARTrefu.”

Alice Briggs, a cARTrefu artist practitioner, added: “One of the most inspiring elements of working on this project is seeing the outlook of care staff change.  I’ve been told several times that the residents aren’t interested, or can’t do art so there isn’t any point bothering. But the staff then see residents enjoying, and benefiting from the sessions and so start to embrace the benefits of art and creativity. I’m sure this new SROI study will help change the minds of even the most diehard sceptics!”

To view a short film about the project and a summary of the SROI analysis please click here.

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