Category – Strengthening the Foundation
Introduction / Overview
South West Yorkshire Partnerships NHS Foundation Trust (SWYPFT) provides general community, mental health, learning disability and substance misuse services to the people of Barnsley, Calderdale, Kirklees and Wakefield, and forensic services to Yorkshire and the Humber. Our mission, which was developed from the ideas and opinions of all our stakeholders, is “enabling people to reach their potential and live well in their community”.
Creative Minds is an award-winning strategy that develops community partnerships and co-funds creative projects across South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust’s localities in Barnsley, Calderdale, Kirklees, Wakefield, and in the Trust’s forensic services. It utilises creative activities such as arts, sports, recreation and leisure, delivered in partnership with over 70 local community organisations to increase the confidence, develop the social skills, and improve the lives of thousands of local people.
Creative Minds was launched in November 2011 in response to patients and carers expressing their desire for more creative approaches to understanding and supporting their health and wellbeing. The strategy was co-produced through a series of workshops which focused on working with and listening to the views of patients, carers, Trust staff and community organisations and groups, ensuring the Trust put the patient at the centre of the development of the initiative.
Where individuals have low expectations and poor self-image, the sense of achievement found in creativity gives them a chance to move away from negative and self-destructive patterns and habits, and start to write a new story of recovery.
An important element of Creative Minds is how it supports the Trust’s mission to help people to live well in their community through accessing local services that enable them to reach their full potential.
The main reason for developing the Creative Minds strategy was to meet a continued desire from patients and carers to be able to use more creative approaches to support their wellbeing. Workshops were held across the Trust to brought patients/carers, staff and community partners together to develop the strategy.
Creative engagement was seen as an opportunity for people to engage as equals, to shift the power imbalance between care providers and the cared for, and for people to progress towards personal autonomy. Many participants find that they discover a passion for a particular activity or talent they never knew they had, which gives them the means to maintain their health and wellbeing through finding a hobby they can continue to enjoy for the rest of their lives.
What Was Done?
A major aim of Creative Minds was to build a strong infrastructure of community and voluntary organisations able to work with the Trust providing excellent creative projects for all who access our services.
Partnerships and co-production was at the core of the conception and development of Creative Minds. It not only shows our commitment as an organisation to having a creative approach to service delivery but also showcases our passion for working in partnership with our communities.
Creative Minds has provided a way to build on existing good practice in our services, and to work more closely with a wide range of community organisations enhancing our service provision by delivering innovative, transformative and meaningful health and wellbeing projects. We have a network of internal and external champions whose passion and commitment to creative approaches has helped to bring Creative Minds to life.
We are now using this infrastructure to help embed this different way of working in all that we do.
Impacts / Outcomes
To date, Creative Minds has delivered almost 200 creative projects in partnership with over 70 community organisations and groups, benefitting over 4,000 participants.
Currently, most projects carry out their own internal evaluation. Two of our projects have also carried out their own social return on investment reports, and these show that for every £100 invested we get a £700 social return on investment. Work is underway to use our mental health clinical system to identify the pathway and package an individual is on prior to a Creative Minds project, then to re-evaluate once they have experienced the project in order to capture any decrease in need for services.
Creative Minds was chosen as the winner in the ‘compassionate patient care’ category at 2014’s Health Service Journal Awards – an accolade that proves its worth among healthcare professionals.
However, the most revealing and striking feedback comes from the participants themselves. The way they talk about themselves and their new lives with a new-found confidence and self-assuredness speaks volumes about the impact Creative Minds is having. A series of films featuring personal testimonies were created to show the success of the strategy first-hand.
The principles and philosophy of Creative Minds seemed to strike a chord with many people. We have initiated a genuine social movement of which people want to be part, and for which people feel a sense of ownership. A key component of the popularity of Creative Minds is the fact that it holds such a broad definition of ‘creativity’. Arts, sports, recreation and leisure activities are just some of the types of projects that Creative Minds co-funds, giving participants the opportunity to take control of their own care and recovery through feeling empowered to make their own choices – just one of the reasons why 4,000 people have been able to benefit from the initiative.
Participating creatively as a means of self-expression tackles social exclusion, promotes self-acceptance and raises aspirations through allowing the individual to discover talents, skills and abilities that combat the feelings of negativity surrounding their mental health. All of these things can help people to develop feelings of pride and satisfaction, enabling them to feel worthwhile. Finding an activity that they enjoy challenges negative self-images and where people have low expectations of themselves, the sense of achievement that can be found in creativity is unrivalled.
Our Creative Minds approach recognises that successful interventions which have an impact on mental health conditions through timely, targeted support will have substantial social and cost benefits. In relation to meeting current needs, Local authority joint strategic needs assessments identify the importance of finding ways of bringing key partners together from across the sectors to understand how their actions can impact on health and wellbeing, and how by working collaboratively and adopting models of good practice, they can play an important role in maintaining and improving health and wellbeing.
Although Creative Minds has mainly provided for mental health patients, we have also projects specifically for people with learning disabilities, health and wellbeing teams and substance misuse services. Creative Minds is also starting to deliver benefits to people with long term physical health conditions and hidden impairments. Creative approaches offer a different way of engaging with communities and have worked especially well with people who have traditionally been more difficult to engage. Projects sensitive to different cultures and faiths have been developed, promoting a sense of inclusion.
- Reducing stigma: Showcasing positive artistic achievement challenges negative stereotypes and celebrates participants’ talents and abilities.
- Recovery: Creative activities have made a difference to participants’ wellbeing as well as helping them to feel as though they are a part of a community.
- Prevention: Creative programmes have been shown to promote better health and wellbeing in vulnerable individuals and to foster social integration, community strength and cohesion.
- Early intervention: Early engagement with ‘softer’ techniques avoids deterioration of health needs and the need for more expensive and intrusive interventions.
- Personalised care: Offer real choice to individuals to develop self-determined packages of care.
- Multi-agency working: Real opportunities for partnerships with creative groups and agencies, increasing the range of creative resources and approaches available to patients.
- Innovation: The creativity agenda can be used at all levels within the organisation to seek innovative approaches to client care, team development, service development and organisational management.
- Value for money: There are opportunities to lever additional funds through partnership working with external arts/health agencies.
- Strengthening transition: New opportunities in the wider community, supporting progress away from acute services towards greater autonomy and independence.
- Resilience: Creative approaches have been shown to be effective in building cohesion and strength in vulnerable communities and providing significant gains in personal resilience.