In this blog, we reflect on the discussion we had at our first public involvement meeting for the TOUS study - Tailoring cultural Offers with and for diverse older Users of Social prescribing.
In our first public involvement group meeting for the TOUS study we met with six people; all were over 60 years old, identified as part of an ethnic minority group and as active participants in creative activities. Firstly, we discussed the different ways in which the public can get involved in research, their role as public contributors to the project and how we will work as a group. Then, we shared our experiences of taking part in creative activities, how it makes us feel and what role it plays in our identity and engaging with the world.
Our study is about tailoring the provision of cultural groups or events with, and for, diverse users of social prescribing so we spent some time describing what we mean by ‘social prescribing’. We also discussed what tailoring means and what adaptations are needed to ensure people feel able to access services and make the most of them. Our public involvement group brought to our attention the following issues:
- Not everyone knows what social prescribing means – and this may be difficult to translate into other languages; ‘prescribing’ might carry a particular meaning for certain communities
- Link workers are signposting older people to activities but this doesn’t mean that they’re likely to regularly attend
- There are access issues when people are relying on public transport to get to activities
- The benefit of engaging in creative or cultural activities is often linked to spontaneous private activity, not necessarily organised group activity
- Tailoring means making something fit well (like a well-fitting suit), which calls for adaptability and flexibility (rather than thinking that ‘one size fits all’)
- Cultural sensitivity is important when designing activities as people may not be familiar with the idea of ‘taking exercise’ for example
- There may be language and literacy barriers to accessing cultural provision
- Attending cultural events or groups could be beneficial not only to an individual but their wider family (especially if they have caring responsibilities)
Towards the end of the meeting, we asked those present to write words that reflected what creativity meant to them. This word cloud illustrates what they wrote and discussed during the meeting (bigger words are those that more than one person wrote).
We plan to meet with the public involvement group again in the spring of 2024.
The public involvement group is led by Sofia Vougioukalou at Cardiff University and attended by principal investigator Stephanie Tierney, project researcher Debra Westlake and public involvement group members Rashmi Kumar, Hameed Khan, Suzanne Duval, Kalpana Natarajan, Joy Findlay and Rehana Nadeem.
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 authors and not necessarily those of the funder or the authors' host institutions.
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