Understanding of the well-being benefits of arts and culture has increased over the past decades. The potential of culture and the arts to promote health, well-being, and security, prevent exclusion, and increase inclusion has been recognised socially and in research. Such research and development work exploring the links between arts, culture, and well-being is referred to as cultural well-being research.
Interest in cultural well-being has grown
Interest in cultural well-being has grown since the early 2000s as the EU and OECD sought to diversify the traditional GDP-based well-being description. The consideration of subjective well-being has become part of monitoring the quality of life and progress of societies and policy-making. In Finland, the growing sustainability gap has generated additional problems. Public officials, policy-makers, and civil society are forced to find new cross-sectoral solutions to secure people’s well-being in socially and economically sustainable ways.
In the arts, cultural well-being extends services and arts professionals’ work beyond the arts into trans-professional contexts. It is also about designing services to meet the needs of different target groups. Not only do professionals in the arts, culture, and education need further training in cultural well-being, but so do professionals in the social and health sectors.
A person-centred approach
Creative person-centred care art is a research, development, and continuing education project implemented by the CERADA Research Centre and the Open Campus of the University of the Arts in cooperation with the Åbo Akademi School of Health Sciences, the Centre for Lifelong Learning and Swedish-speaking nursing schools. The project aims to integrate a person-centred approach into the Finnish-Swedish nursing culture and to develop and identify art-based and creative methods suitable for the care of older people.
In the project, the University of the Arts developed and piloted the Wonderful Age course module, which explores the possibilities and well-being effects of participation in arts and culture in eldercare.
The course aimed to strengthen the understanding of the Finland-Swedish teachers in charge of eldercare training concerning the relationship of art and culture to well-being. In addition, it aimed to model the implementation of cultural eldercare and to enable them to act as change agents in integrating cultural well-being thinking into person-centred and holistic care teaching.
The Wonderful Age module consisted of pre-recorded online lectures, a literature review, an experiential workshop day and an online seminar.
Substantial impact with thematic interdisciplinary cooperation
For the University of the Arts, cooperation with Åbo Akademi’s experts has been enriching in many ways. We have learned from each other, and together we have integrated cultural well-being thinking into person-centred care. Through Åbo Akademi, we have reached out to interested responsible teachers of eldercare in Swedish-language nursing schools. Thanks to our joint in-service training, they are now introducing cultural well-being thinking into the curricula of eldercare in their institutions.
Such thematic interdisciplinary cooperation, for which there is a clear societal purpose, is having a substantial impact on the curricula of eldercare. In the longer term, the project will impact Finland-Swedish eldercare. We will strengthen the understanding of everyone’s right to participate in arts and culture and to educate themselves and strengthen their well-being through them, also in old age.
As a recent external evaluation report on research shows, research at the University of the Arts is increasingly expected to involve cross-disciplinary collaboration. Research funders also expect more dialogue between the research community and society and more influence on society.
A common interest in health and well-being
The project aims to develop, implement and evaluate creative approaches to person-centred care, art, and culture at different levels of health education. Therefore, a broad range of knowledge from many disciplines is required.
Åbo Akademi University has such expertise and the scholars at Uniarts Helsinki have specific expertise in creativity, art, and culture. According to Project Coordinator Lisabet Sandin-Kula and Associate Professor of Gerontology and Health Sciences Heli Vaartio-Rajalin from Åbo Akademi University, a common interest in health and well-being unites the experts.
Sandin-Kula and Vaartio-Rajalin experience that through the project partnership with Uniarts Helsinki, they have learned much about the Finnish and international research field and ongoing research, activities, and initiatives. They have found active work in different art forms throughout the country.
“Experts from Uniarts Helsinki have generously shared their knowledge and network with us, which has made the continuing education courses for care professionals offered through the project feel relevant and useful.”
The project is funded by Svenska kulturfonden, Föreningen Konstsamfundet, Högskolestiftelsen i Österbotten and Aktiastiftelsen.
University Researcher Kai Lehikoinen, Doctoral Researcher Taru Koivisto, and Lecturer in career skills Riitta Huttunen, Creative person-centred care art project
Art makes a difference
Taidekasvatuksen tutkimuskeskus CERADAn blogista löydät keskuksen uutiset, tapahtumat ja puheenvuorot. Keskuksen tutkijat kirjoittavat taidekasvatuksen tutkimuksesta sekä taidealan korkea-asteen koulutuksen tutkimusperustaisesta kehittämisestä.
Research centre CERADA’s blog offers news and views about how research into arts education can have an impact on society. CERADA researchers at Uniarts Helsinki blog about their work.