Creative Health Review Launches

Creative Health Review Launches

NCCH and the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Arts, Health and Wellbeing Creative Health launch Creative Health Review

Thank you to over 400 of you who joined us for the launch of the NCCH and All-Party Parliamentary Group on Arts, Health and Wellbeing (APPG AHW) Creative Health Review. We are really pleased to have you on this journey with us, and we hope that you will join us for upcoming events, and get involved by submitting your own contributions. You can find out more about how to do this HERE.

If you weren’t able to make the launch, catch up here >>

About the Creative Health Review

The Creative Health Review will highlight the potential for creative health to help tackle pressing issues in health and social care and more widely, including health inequalities and the additional challenges we face as we recover from Covid-19.

Over the next year we will hold a series of online roundtables, open to a public audience, presenting evidence and examples of the powerful influence creative health can have on our health and wellbeing, and how it can be used across key policy areas. An open call for contributions will gather further evidence and experiences. Our commissioners, who bring a broad range of expertise, have been tasked with translating what they hear into a set of recommendations to the Government to inform a cross-governmental strategy on creative health.

As well as producing recommendations to the Government, we hope the findings of the review will be useful and inspiring for regional and local leaders, and that the evidence and examples presented will be interesting to those involved in creative health and wider audiences.

Why do we need a review?

We asked our NCCH Chair, and APPG AHW Co-Chair Lord Howarth of Newport to explain why the time is right for a review of creative health:

“Creative health has important potential in health and social care. It should be a crucial element in addressing difficult and pressing policy challenges. Used effectively it can strengthen preventative strategies to maintain health for all; help frail and older people stay healthy and independent; enable patients to take a more active role in their own health and care; improve recovery from illness; enhance mental healthcare; improve the quality of social care; relieve pressure on GP services and enable more cost-effective use of resources within the NHS.

Our ambition for the review is to demonstrate the potential of creative health in complementing and enhancing the effectiveness of conventional medicine and, working with a remarkable group of commissioners, to explore creative health approaches from different perspectives.”

NCCH Trustee, Debs Teale, set an inspiring tone for the launch, speaking passionately about her own experiences with creative health, which she credits with keeping her medication-free for over a decade, and the importance of the voice of lived experience.

“Art allowed my racing brain, that was all I had ever known, to stop and allow me to have the time to heal myself”

Having experienced first-hand the ‘life-changing’ impacts of creative health, Debs works tirelessly to ensure other people in similar situations have hope that things can improve, and that they know that the arts are an option for them. In Debs’ words ‘everybody counts, everybody matters, and we all need to be able to access what we want.’ With Debs’ guidance as an NCCH Trustee, we will ensure that lived experience is fully represented in the review.

Our panel of commissioners

The launch was an opportunity for our commissioners to give us an insight into their own perspectives on creative health and why they feel it is so important. Their experience is diverse and spans the health, social care and creative and cultural sectors, lived experience, and policymaking.

For James Sanderson, Director of Community Health and Personalised Care at NHS England, creative health is an essential element of giving people choice and control over the way their care is planned and delivered. Baroness Lola Young of Hornsey OBE, drawing on her recent experience as Chair of the Local Government Association Commission on Culture highlighted the importance of place and identity, and how we must work to tackle inequalities particularly in health. Arts Council England CEO, Dr Darren Henley CBE, described the organisation’s long-standing belief in the contribution arts and culture can make to health and wellbeing, most recently recognised in their Let’s Create strategy and links to the National Academy of Social Prescribing. They believe that ‘creativity and cultural activity should be viewed by society as an absolutely fundamental part of living your life well’. Mayor of West Yorkshire, Tracy Brabin is ideally placed to oversee a whole systems approach to creative health, which incorporates wider issues such as housing, and the creation of jobs in the creative industries. Tracy emphasised the importance of responding to community need, and the role for creative health here; ‘I think we can do more work to empower our communities to create what they want from us rather than the other way round’.

We were delighted to have a view on the value of gardening and engaging creatively with the natural world from leading garden writer and broadcaster Monty Don OBE who spoke stirringly of the ‘inextricable’ connection between human health and the health of the natural world, a link that he feels may have been forgotten. Gardening can bring a sense of joy, inspiration, empowerment and relief to people, and we look forward to working with Monty to think about how, through engaging with policy, we can make sure as many people as possible benefit.

“The action of growing something is hugely empowering. Empowerment is part of health – it provides hope, and hope is part of health in any definition of the word.” - Monty Don OBE

The launch sparked a lively conversation in the online chat – one we will refer to as we gather opinions, evidence and examples for the review. Some of these questions were put to our commissioners. Rob Webster, CEO of NHS West Yorkshire Integrated Care Board outlined the role for Integrated Care Systems working in partnership with local organisations to tackle both the wider determinants of health and ensure access to good care and treatment that is efficient for the individual. Rob believes that ‘creative health can help both - having access to creative meaningful activity keeps you well, and if you are not well, it can help you to become well.’

Chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners, Professor Martin Marshall CBE was asked about the role for creative health in medical education, where a culture change is necessary in order to fully embrace creative health. He responded that GPs are increasingly incorporating creative health and approaches into their curriculum, and developing avenues for continuing professional development in this area. The next generation of clinicians are recognising the benefits of creative health, amid concerns about ‘over medicalisation’ and finding that the approach is welcomed by their patients, particularly when recommended by a trusted GP. Creative health has long been used effectively in social care settings, and Madeleine Bunting, author of Labours of Love: The Crisis of Care, gave a warning that the value of creativity and compassion must not be lost as social care struggles in the current climate to meet the basic needs of its users and workforce.

The aim of the Creative Health Review is to influence policymakers, and our two MPs, Dame Caroline Dinenage DBE and Tracey Crouch CBE, Co-Chair of the APPG on Arts, Health and Wellbeing, gave their views on how this can be best achieved. Whilst challenges were recognised, such as siloed working within government, Caroline felt that a panel such as this, supported by a strong evidence-base, provides a powerful voice with which to advocate for creative health. Both Tracey and Caroline felt that MPs, with a good knowledge of all aspects of their local areas, will be receptive and happy to champion creative health projects and programmes and that we should ensure that they are aware of what is going on in their constituency.

Every single member of parliament can see an example in their own constituency – Tell us, tell them!” – Dame Caroline Dinanage MP

“I think it’s really important that while we have a disconnect in central government around wellbeing, that all these community projects continue. Because we don’t have a strategy that prevents illness, we don’t have a strategy that promotes wellness. Therefore what we need to do is make sure that everything that is being done in our constituencies, all 650 of them, and its importance and value, is known about.” - Tracey Crouch MP

As Baroness Lola Young concluded

“We have a huge mix of experience, knowledge, and commitment on this panel, and whilst I do think what we are trying to engage with is challenging, because it is so complex, with this panel, and the already existing evidence we will be able to rise to the challenge” - Baroness Lola Young of Hornsey OBE

You can find a full list of our commissioners and their biographies here.

What will the review cover?

Whilst our commissioners bring their own unique experience, they will be drawing on a wealth of experience in creative health including from practitioners, individuals with lived experience of benefiting from creative health, researchers, funders and system leaders, represented in the roundtables and supported by submissions received through the open call.

We welcome your contributions at all stages of the review. We have structured the review around key challenges where we believe creative health has an important role to play, and the steps that are required in order to fully maximise its potential.

  • Mental Health and Wellbeing Across the Life Course
  • Health Inequalities
  • Social Care
  • End of Life Care
  • Education and Training
  • Cost-effectiveness, evidencing value for money and funding models
  • Leadership and strategy - Embedding creative health in Integrated Care Systems

More about our Creative Health Review >>

Themes and Roundtables >>

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