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In this blog, Patient-Public Involvement (PPI) lead for the TOUS study, Sofia Vougioukalou from Cardiff University, reflects on work undertaken to date on this study. This study consists of: a) a scoping review; b) a mapping exercise of cultural provision in the UK developed for or with older people from ethnic minority groups; c) case studies in the UK of cultural provision attracting older people from ethnic minority groups and interviews with key informants.

For the TOUS study (Tailoring cultural offers with and for diverse older users of social prescribing), we have a public involvement group consisting of six people from diverse backgrounds. Their role in the study is tailored along the following phases of the research:

  1.  Input on the mapping exercise and scoping review
  2.  Input on data collection for case studies
  3.  Input on data analysis

Public involvement involves meeting online. In addition, 1:2:1 catch up calls in-between meetings are conducted by PPI lead for the project, Sofia Vougioukalou, to ensure that everyone has a chance to contribute in an environment they feel most comfortable in. We observed that not everyone was able to contribute fully in a group Zoom meeting with people they didn’t know. Hence, the private catch-up calls provide a private listening space, where questions about the project can be asked, and relevant personal experiences of taking part in creative/cultural activities shared. They are particularly important for people who are new to public involvement and who do not speak English as their native tongue. Our public involvement group was purposively selected to be diverse and includes people who have not attended tertiary education. Therefore, the ‘traditional’ form of a public involvement meeting, with an agenda and question-answer format, needs to be revised for this group.

As part of our public involvement work, we discussed terms of reference with the group. In the future, we’ll be looking into offering more diverse opportunities for public involvement to ensure that group members can engage fully in the research process. This has already included public involvement contributors acting as pilot interviewees; researchers on the project will be using an approach called Storytelling and have practiced their technique and questioning style with members of the public involvement group. Public involvement contributors have also helped us to develop a logo for the study, which is displayed at the top of this blog.

The PPI lead has discussed the TOUS study during events taking place in the community, which public involvement group members invited her to attend; these events are in their community spaces where ethnic minority elders engage in creative activities (examples include an International Women’s Day celebration, a refugee musical event, and an iftar dinner). These in-person visits and informal discussions about creativity in community spaces have helped us to gain a deeper understanding of the inter-connectedness between spirituality, hospitality and cultural expression.


The study mentioned in this blog is funded by a grant from UK Research and Innovation (MR/Y010000/1). The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of the funder or the author’s host institution.