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Museum resource older people

30th October 2020

A new resource that supports health and social care professionals to use museums as part of a care practice when working with older people has been launched.

The resource has been created by Northumbria University and Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums (TWAM), to show how TWAM’s museum resources and collections can support quality of life improvements for older people.

The resource provides advice and guidance for health and social care professionals on how the collections can be used to support a range of healthy ageing and rehabilitation needs. It suggests varied heritage activities and identifies how they could specifically support quality of life, health and wellbeing in older people, such as pain management, cognitive stimulation or social interaction.

Uniquely, it also features searchable clinical and care outcomes that have been coded to categories such as Physical/Mobility, Social, Cognitive/Knowledge/Learning and Mindful/Emotional, showing their relevance to specific health and wellbeing goals.

The vision to create the resource was shared by Dr Juliana Thompson, Associate Professor (Adult Nursing) in Northumbria University’s Department of Nursing, Midwifery and Health, and museum outreach professional Zoë Brown.

Dr Thompson explained: “The ultimate aim of the project is to use museum resources and collections to support quality of life improvements for older people.

“Our progress so far has led to the development of this set of activities that will support health and social care professionals to use TWAM’s collection to support a range of healthy ageing and rehabilitation needs.”

Zoë Brown, Outreach Officer for Adult Health, Social Care and Wellbeing programmes at Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums is currently working with care homes and organisations supporting older people in North Tyneside, Newcastle, Gateshead and South Tyneside.

She said: “After working on heritage themed creative projects with older adults alongside health and social care professionals for many years, I wanted to help support more professionals to feel confident to facilitate their own heritage projects by sharing resources, skills and linking specific activities with clinical health and care outcomes.”

A multi-disciplinary team of health and social care practitioners and academics from Northumbria University’s Faculty of Health and Life Sciences are part of a steering group created to oversee the project.

Specialising in occupational therapy, physiotherapy, mental health nursing, social work, and older people’s nursing, the project team cross-referenced specific cultural activities that the TWAM outreach team were delivering to participants as part of their four health and wellbeing programmes. They added the clinical outcomes that can be attributed to those kinds of activities to help health and social care professionals make the connections to the outcomes for their patients.

The resources form the start of a new long-term Museums, Health and Social Care Service. The team are currently developing more activities for the service, including online and in-person training, short instructional films, venue visits, teaching for nursing students and activity loans boxes. Their work has already attracted praise from external organisations, including the NHS.

Dr Neil Churchill OBE, Director of NHS England’s Experience, Participation and Equalities Group, said: “Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums have long understood that their collections can help people living with stroke, dementia or mental ill-health. Now many more people can share this experience, thanks to these fantastic new resources. Culture plays such an important part in our wellbeing and these resources will be of immediate and practical benefit to anyone working in health or social care.”

Professor Helen Chatterjee MBE, Professor of Biology, University College London (UCL) Biosciences and Head of Research and Teaching at UCL Culture, said: “These resources exemplify Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums' and Northumbria University’s approach to evidence-based practice and their dedication to embedding learning from research collaboration into programme design.

“The result is an exciting range of creative activities that encourage cognitive and tactile stimulation, provide opportunities for meaning making, a sense of purpose, enjoyment and reflection.”

Click here to download the Museums, Health and Social Care Service resource.

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