Museums, Health and Social Care Service

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

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

Two older people smiling

Download the Museums, Health and Social Care Service Resource

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 created by Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums (TWAM) and Northumbria University, Newcastle.  

The resource suggests heritage activities and identifies how these activities could specifically support quality of life, health and wellbeing in older people, for example: pain management, speech, cognitive stimulation, mental health, and social interaction.  

Uniquely, it features searchable clinical and care outcomes that have been coded to categories such as Physical/Mobility, Social, Cognitive/Knowledge/Learning and Mindful/Emotional.  

Museum outreach professional Zoë Brown and adult nursing professor Dr Juliana Thompson shared a vision to create the resource, which forms the start of a new long-term Museums, Health and Social Care Service. 

Zoë Brown, Outreach Officer, Adult Health, Social Care & Wellbeing Programmes, TWAM, 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.  

“This resource is the start of a long-term Museums, Health & Social Care Service.” 

Dr Juliana Thompson, Associate Professor (Adult Nursing), Northumbria University, Newcastle, said: 

“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.” 

Through the development of a strong partnership between TWAM and Northumbria University’s Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, a steering group was created to oversee the project. The group is a multi-disciplinary team of health and social care practitioners and academics 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, with the clinical outcomes that can be attributed to those kinds of activities. In doing this, the team aims to help health and social care professionals make the connections to the outcomes for their patients. 

Dr Neil Churchill OBE, Director, Experience, Participation and Equalities Group, NHS England, said: 

“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: 

“This 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.” 

In addition to the resource pack the team are currently developing more activities for the Museums, Health & Social Care Service (MHSCS). These include online and in-person training, short instructional films, venue visits, teaching for nursing students and activity loans boxes.